Jul 22, 11:01 AM EDT

Norway honors 77 victims of extremist attacks in July 2011

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AP Photo/Audun Braastad

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HELSINKI (AP) -- Four years after a right-wing extremist killed 77 people in Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg says July 22, 2011, will always remain a dark day in the Scandinavian country's history.

Solberg said the victims are "remembered with love" and will never be forgotten at a wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday in the capital Oslo. The ceremony took place outside a new museum about the attacks next to the government buildings where Anders Behring Breivik killed eight people with a car bomb before gunning down 69 others on the nearby Utoya island.

"That day Utoya and the government quarter were the scenes of evil and heinous acts," she said, holding back tears.

Breivik, a self-styled anti-Muslim militant, confessed to the attacks, saying that he was acting in defense of Norway by targeting participants at a youth summer camp, organized by the leftwing Labor Party he accused of betraying the country with liberal immigration policies.

It was the worst massacre in Norway since World War II.

In 2012, Breivik was convicted of mass murder and terrorism and was given a 21-year prison sentence that can be extended for as long as he's deemed dangerous to society, which legal experts say likely means he will be locked up for life.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's prime minister at the time of the attacks, attended several ceremonies on Wednesday, including the opening of the July 22 Center, which shows how the assailant carried out the cold-blooded attacks.

Visibly moved after coming out of the building, Stoltenberg said the exhibition played an important role in honoring the victims.

He joined Crown Princess Mette-Marit and politicians among hundreds at a memorial service in Oslo Cathedral and attended the unveiling of a monument for the victims on Utoya.

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