April 20, 1997

Pope calls for land mine ban, speaks of Sarajevo

VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul appealed on Sunday for world leaders to work for an outright ban on land mines, saying they were a scourge that still killed people years after wars were over.

The pontiff, whose visit to Sarajevo last weekend was preceded by the discovery of 23 land mines planted along the route of his motorcade, spoke on the subject when greeting members of an Italian group campaigning against mines.

A news release handed out by the campaign referred directly to the mines planted before the Pope's Bosnia trip and defused a few hours before he arrived.

Witnesses said that security was noticeably tighter in the square as the Pope spoke, with uniformed and plain-clothes police mingling with the thousands of pilgrims.

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.

In his homily, the Pope also referred to his trip to Sarajevo, again calling the city ``a symbol of our century.''

``This is the time of moral and material reconstruction. We continue to be with the people of this beloved region with our energetic solidarity,'' the pontiff told the crowd.

Earlier, the Pope celebrated a mass in Saint Peter's Basilica, where he ordained 30 new Catholic priests from around the world, mostly from Italy and Latin America.

Other countries included the Philippines, Romania, France, Spain, Zaire, India and South Korea.

The faithful entering the Basilica were checked by Italian police with metal detectors at the doors.