image captionFloral tributes left at the memorial fountain at Dunblane Cemetery

The 25th anniversary of the Dunblane tragedy is being marked privately by residents of the town this weekend.

Church services in memory of the victims are being held online due to Covid lockdown restrictions.

Teacher Gwen Mayor and 16 children were murdered by gunman Thomas Hamilton when he opened fire at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996.

In a tribute, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the victims were “forever in our hearts”.

Rev Colin Renwick, of Dunblane Cathedral, said people in the town will remember the events “quietly, privately and with respect for those who lost their lives”.

He said: “Some will light a candle in their home, spending time in quiet reflection, prayer and remembering.

“As is the case every year, the people lost, and those affected most profoundly, will be remembered in prayers in churches throughout the community.”

Prayers for the victims and their families will be heard during Dunblane Cathedral’s online service on Sunday.

image captionThe stained glassed memorial window at St Blane’s church in Dunblane

Dunblane’s Holy Family Church is streaming an online mass in memory of the victims on Saturday evening.

Canon Basil O’Sullivan said: “My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who suffered and lost so much 25 years ago.”

Flags at Scottish government buildings were lowered to half-mast on Saturday.

On social media, Nicola Sturgeon was among many who shared an image of snowdrops to remember those who died in the Stirlingshire town.

This day, 25 years ago, was one of the darkest and most heartbreaking in Scotlands history. Thinking today of 16 little children, their teacher and all those who still live with the pain. They are forever in our hearts. #Dunblanepic.twitter.com/z4napYqF02

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) March 13, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The 1996 shooting led to the Snowdrop campaign, which saw the UK enforcing some of the strictest firearms legislation in the world.

Ms Sturgeon wrote: “This day, 25 years ago, was one of the darkest and most heartbreaking in Scotland’s history.

“Thinking today of 16 little children, their teacher and all those who still live with the pain.”

In a statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The brutal murder of sixteen primary school children and their teacher shocked not just Scotland, but the whole world.

“We must never forget all those who lost their lives on that terrible day. We must continue to tell their story.”