Pope John Paul II sent a telegram Wednesday to Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, president of the Italian Republic, after a suicide bomb attack in Nassiriya (Iraq) on an Italian military base.
Two vehicles crashed the gate of the Italian military headquarters and one exploded, killing at least 22 people.
The blast killed 14 Italians, 11 "Carabinieri" (Italian police) and three army soldiers, while seven more Italians were wounded. At least 8 Iraqi civilians also died.
“I received with deep sorrow the news of the vicious attack in Nassiriya, Iraq, in which Italian soldiers lost their lives while generously fulfilling their mission of peace,” the Pope wrote.
“I express my firmest condemnation of this latest act of violence which, in addition to other savage acts which have taken place in that tormented country, does not aid the process of reconstruction and pacification,” he added.
“In lifting up my fervent prayer for the victims, I ask the Lord to grant Christian comfort to their family members to whom I feel particularly close in this hour of great sadness. I ask you, Mr. President, to convey the expression of my prayerful solidarity to the military and civilians who are at present committed to the arduous task of serving the Iraqi people,” the telegram concludes.