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Survivors return to site of Norway massacre

Survivors of a massacre which claimed the lives of 69 people in Norway last month carried flowers to the site of the killings Saturday, laughter blending with tears as they remembered the joys of an island youth camp that turned into a scene of horror.

Many who returned to the island lit candles and laid handwritten notes in memory of their friends at the sites where they were shot during the summer camp organized by the youth wing of Norway's Labor Party. They also gathered to sing, just like they used to do on Utoya.

Eskil Pedersen, the leader of the party's youth organization, said his visit to the island with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and several hundred youth politicians had been "heavy, but fine."

"It was incredibly good to see [the survivors] smiling again on Utoya," Pedersen told reporters.

Up to 1,000 survivors and relatives traveled Saturday to Utoya, accompanied by police and medical staff, to face the painful memories of the shooting spree by a right-wing extremist. Their visit followed a similar arrangement Friday, when around 500 relatives of the deceased came to see the sites where they lost their loved ones.

Stoltenberg -- the leader of the Norwegian Labor Party -- said he had wanted to visit "to take part in their mourning and be there for them."

Anders Behring Breivik has admitted killing 77 people on July 22 when he first detonated a truck bomb outside government offices in the capital, Oslo, and then went on a meticulously planned shooting spree on the island, some 25 miles away.

The right-wing extremist denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and to punish politicians that have embraced multiculturalism.

Media were not allowed access to the heavily guarded island where Breivik spent 90 minutes executing the 69 people. Many of the victims were shot in the water as they tried to escape by swimming.

The operation included 400 health care workers, psychiatrists, police and other officials on the site to help the survivors.