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OSAKA — A memorial service was held Saturday in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for the eight children who were killed by an intruder who went on a stabbing spree a year ago at a local elementary school.

Some 1,500 relatives of the deceased, schoolchildren and their parents, and teachers attended the ceremony at a local hall. At the beginning of the service, they offered silent prayers in front of photographs of the victims.

The schoolchildren read poems and sang a song titled: “In memory of eight angles.”

The victims — seven girls and one boy — were killed when Mamoru Takuma, 38, went on a rampage on June 8, 2001, at Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School in Ikeda, adjacent to Toyonaka.

During the service, Principal Yoshio Yamane gave an address and said: “We remember you leading a cheerful and lively school life. We are deeply sorry we were not able to protect you.”

A sixth-grader representing students of the school said they will never forget what happened that day and will strive to pass on the lessons they learned about the preciousness of life.

Students who witnessed the attack still suffer psychological trauma and some show signs of post traumatic stress disorder.

Because 20 children felt ill during another memorial service at the end of February, the school had a team of psychologists on hand for Saturday’s ceremony. During the service, seven students felt ill after recalling what happened a year ago, school officials said.

Media cameramen were requested not to take photos during the service in order to not offend the feelings of the relatives and others involved.

Later Saturday, another memorial service for the eight children was held at Osaka Kyoiku University in Yao in the prefecture.

The eight killed were Yuka Kiso, 7, Kana Tsukamoto, 7, Yuki Hongo, 7, Ayano Moriwaki, 7, Maki Sakai, 7, Mayuko Isaka, 7, Rena Yamashita, 8, and Takahiro Totsuka, 6.

The massacre served as a grim warning of the weakness of safety management at schools nationwide.

Takuma has pleaded guilty to stabbing the eight children to death and wounding 13 others and two teachers in the attack.

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