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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK
Funerals for Amish school victims
Funeral procession for Naomi Rose Ebersole
The Amish community appealed for privacy after the killings
Funerals for four of the five Amish girls killed in a schoolroom massacre on Monday have taken place in the US state of Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of mourners gathered as the four, aged seven to 12, were laid to rest in the small town of Nickel Mines.

Each girl was buried in a plain pine coffin. The fifth victim will be laid to rest on Friday.

The girls were gunned down by a local man, Charles Roberts, who then killed himself. Five more girls were injured.

Doctors treating the survivors have reportedly taken one girl off a life-support machine and allowed her to be taken home to die.

Roads into the village were closed off to maintain privacy during Thursday's funerals.

The first girl to be buried was Naomi Rose Ebersole, seven, who was carried to Nickel Mines' hill top cemetery at the head of 32 horse-drawn coaches.

FACTS ABOUT THE AMISH
Anabaptist Christian denomination
Communities in the US and Canada
Many communities reject links to outside world
Most Amish shun modern technology including electricity and cars
Plain clothing - no buttons allowed in some communities
Speak English and a German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch

Similar processions were later held for Marian Fisher, 13, and the Miller sisters, Lena, seven, and Mary Liz, eight.

The funeral of Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12, is scheduled to take place on Friday.

The Anabaptist denomination eschews technology and preaches isolation from the modern world to varying degrees.

Amish burial customs call for simple wooden caskets - and a girl is typically laid to rest in a white dress, cape and white prayer-covering on her head, the victims' funeral director said.

Forgiveness

Donations have been coming in from around the world to help with medical expenses - Amish do not carry health insurance.

One insurance company has pledged $500,000 (265,000).

HAVE YOUR SAY
Stricter gun-control laws would not have prevented this gruesome act
David Zimlin
Florida, USA

But the Amish have also reached out to the family of Roberts, the 32-year-old milk-tanker driver who killed himself at the end of the shooting spree.

Amish leaders have helped set up a fund for the family at a local bank.

A Roberts family spokesman said an Amish neighbour had also comforted the family hours after the shooting - and extended forgiveness to them.

"I hope they stay around here and they'll have a lot of friends and a lot of support," said Daniel Esh, an Amish artist whose grand-nephews were inside the school at the start of the attack.

In a final phone call, Roberts told his wife he had molested two young members of his own family 20 years ago.

In suicide notes he also made references to another incident 20 years ago, and said he had been haunted by dreams of repeating his actions.

Roberts had entered the one-room school in the village of Paradise, armed with guns, knives and 600 rounds of ammunition.

He ordered the women and boys to leave, tied up the girls, barricaded the doors and shot his captives in the head.

Roberts' wife Marie and other family members have said he was a good and loving husband and father, and that prior to Monday's attack there had been no hint of what he was planning.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Funeral procession through the town of Nickel Mines



SEE ALSO
Excerpts from Amish killer's note
03 Oct 06 |  Americas
Who are the Amish?
02 Oct 06 |  Americas
How can we prevent school shootings?
03 Oct 06 |  Have Your Say
How the Amish shooting unfolded
03 Oct 06 |  Americas
Tight-knit Amish shaken by attacks
03 Oct 06 |  Americas
Timeline: US school shootings
02 Oct 06 |  Americas
In pictures: Amish school shooting
02 Oct 06 |  In Pictures



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