VATICAN CITY, AUG. 28, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is expressing his distress at the terrorist attack on U.N. offices in Abuja, Nigeria, which caused more than 20 deaths and dozens of wounded.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, sent twin telegrams on his behalf to the secretary-general of the United Nations and the president of Nigeria.

A suicide bomber Friday crashed a vehicle into the U.N. offices, and then detonated explosives. A local radical Muslim sect, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Noting the "terrible loss of life among both local citizens and United Nations personnel," the Holy Father reiterated his appeal "to those who choose death and violence to embrace instead life and respectful dialogue."

"The Holy Father earnestly prays for the repose of those whose lives have been cut short so dramatically," the telegrams added, and he "invokes God's blessings of courage and strength upon the injured and those who mourn."