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Security tight as pope calls for land mine ban

April 20, 1997
Web posted at: 7:46 p.m. EDT (2346 GMT)

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Despite increased security following reports that Pope John Paul II is a possible target of terrorists, the pontiff mingled freely Sunday with thousands of faithful attending his Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Police checked each person before allowing them to enter. After the Mass, the pope stopped to shake the outstretched hands of the faithful as he walked down the aisle. Outside, uniformed and plainclothes police mingled with the crowd waiting for the pope's traditional Sunday appearance at the window of his private studio overlooking St. Peter's Square.

With several land mine victims from Bosnia in wheelchairs in the square, John Paul urged world leaders to eliminate "those insidious arms." During the pontiff's visit to Bosnia last weekend, land mines were found under a Sarajevo bridge hours before he was due to have crossed it.

Italy has stepped up security at a number of sites this week after a leaked intelligence report warned that Islamic extremists may be planning attacks in the country on targets that included the pope and other religious figures.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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