British town remembers taxi driver massacre

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A tranquil English seaside town on Thursday quietly marked the first anniversary of a deadly shooting rampage that made headlines across the world.

Taxi driver Derrick Bird shot dead 12 people in a three-hour killing spree through the towns and villages of of one of Britain's most popular tourist areas, before turning the gun on himself.

The carnage shocked the close-knit community in the town of Whitehaven and the surrounding upland villages of western Cumberland. The picturesque, rural corner of northwest England draws millions of visitors a year to the mountainous Lake District.

Flags flew at half-mast in Whitehaven, while it was a normal working day at the Duke Street taxi rank where Bird worked and gunned down one of his colleagues during his rampage.

At midday, hundreds of mourners gathered at Saint Nicholas' Church in Whitehaven to remember Bird's victims.

Summoned by the town crier, they packed the church grounds to observe a two-minute silence.

As a bell tolled, Reverend John Bannister, the vicar of Whitehaven, slowly read out the victims' names.

"It's right and proper that we come together as a community to acknowledge the dreadful loss that people are living with since the terrible events of June 2 last year," he said.

"We also come together to offer our love and our support and our prayers to those who are hurting most today, and those are the families of those who were killed last year."

The local police chief said their focus was now on enabling the victims' families to rebuild their lives.

© 2011 AFP

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