05/11/2004, 00.00
Chechnya
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Pope and religious leaders express sorrow for terrorist strike victims

Rome (AsiaNews) – A telegram from Pope John Paul II was read today, in which the pontiff expressed his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack at Grozny Stadium early this past Sunday morning. The pope assured that he was praying so that Chechnya  "with everybody's help will find path to dialog and reconciliation."

"(The pope) was deeply hurt by the news of the serious attack at Grozny Stadium, which caused many victims," to die and suffer the message read. The telegram was signed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of Sate.

"His Holiness expresses his deepest feelings of sorrow to (the victim's) relatives and survivors. In entrusting all the lives tragically lost as well those of all victims of violence to God's divine mercy, His Holiness assures you that he is praying so that even Cechnya, with everybody's help, will find a path to dialog and reconciliation."

The attack was also condemned by Orthodox and Muslim religious leaders in Russia and Chechnya.

The head of the Russian Council of Muftis, Ravil Gainutdin, expressed his condolences to the victims' family and friends.

Yesterday the Mufti of Chechnya, Akhmad Shamaev, showed his solidarity by harshly condemning the instigators of the terrorist strike. He issued an announcement to the all the mosques in Chechnya to pray for the victims while saying the attackers would be damned.

"Whoever does not want there to be peace and calm in Chechnya," the Mufti said, "considered Akhmad Kadyrov to be his greatest enemy, since he couldn't be frightened or stopped."

In accordance with Islamic tradition, Akhmad Kadyrov's body will be buried today in his native town of Tsentora following religious ceremonies and prayer services.  
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