CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2003 ( John Paul II condemned Tuesday's suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem which killed 20, including six children. It was one of the bloodiest attacks in the Holy Land in the past three years.

Commenting on the attack, as well as on the suicide bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, the Pope said these acts of violence "can only cause in our heart profound sadness and unanimous reprobation."

At the end of today's general audience, held at the papal summer residence, the Pope added: "While we entrust to divine mercy the persons who lost their lives and implore consolation for those who mourn, we pray to the God of peace that wisdom will prevail in hearts and that those responsible for public affairs will be able to break this fatal spiral of hatred and violence."

The bus was full of Orthodox Jews returning from the Wailing Wall. Forty of the 100 wounded passengers are minors.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas described the attack as a "terrible crime" and announced that he would cease his contacts with extremist groups. He said also he would postpone his trips abroad, including a visit to the Vatican.


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