John Paul II Denounces Terrorist Attacks in Nepal, Israel, Russia and Iraq

Appeals for Liberation of Two French Journalists

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2004 ( John Paul II condemned the terrorist attacks that 24 hours earlier bloodied Iraq, Israel and Russia.

«With profound grief and concern I have received the grave news of the terrorist attacks in Israel and Russia, where numerous persons, defenseless and innocent, met their death,» the Holy Father said at the end of the general audience on Wednesday.

While the Pope was speaking, some 400 persons, among them 200 children, were kidnapped by an armed group in a school in Beslan, in northern Ossetia, near Chechnya. On Tuesday, a suicide bomb left ten people dead in a Moscow subway station.

That same day, suicide bombers of the Hamas group exploded devices in two adjacent buses in the city of Beersheba, Israel, leaving 16 passengers dead, including a 3-year old boy, and 80 wounded. The terrorists were not included in the count of dead or wounded.

«Also in tormented Iraq there is no break in the chain of senseless violence that impedes a rapid return to civil coexistence,» the Pontiff said in his appeal, which was read in Italian by a prelate of the Vatican State Secretariat.

«To the energetic condemnation of the barbarous execution of 12 Nepalese citizens is coupled the profound concern for the fate of two French journalists who are still in the hands of their kidnappers,» the Holy Father added in his message heard by pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI auditorium.

«I make an urgent appeal that recourse to violence cease everywhere, which is always unworthy of every good cause, and that the two French journalists be treated with humanity and restored unharmed as soon as possible to their loved ones,» he added.

John Paul II pointed out that Sept. 1, is the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, the date the Second World War began, «which sowed grief in Europe and other continents.»

«Remembering those days, at this time of serious and widespread tensions, we invoke from God, Father of all men, the precious gift of peace,» the Bishop of Rome concluded.

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