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  Nation World  


 

A papal tackle?
The Vatican has said it is impossible to protect the Pope from incidents like that on Thursday night, when a woman grabbed him at Christmas Eve Mass.
Spokesman Frederico Lombardi said the Pope was regularly surrounded by tens of thousands of people at audiences, Masses, greetings and other events.

He said it was unthinkable to create a wall between the Pope and the faithful.
Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, himself recently attacked in public, warned of “hatred and extremism.”
The Pope was not injured when Susanna Maiolo, 25, hurled herself at him in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican but an elderly French cardinal standing nearby, Roger Etchegaray, suffered a broken hip.
The woman, who tried to throw herself at Benedict at the same Christmas Eve service one year ago, is now receiving psychiatric treatment and Lombardi said he thought she would be dealt with very leniently by the Vatican.

‘No hurt intended’
Father Lombardi said it was not realistic to think the Vatican could ensure 100% security for the Pope and that security guards appeared to have acted as quickly as possible.
“It seems that they intervened at the earliest possible moment in a situation in which zero risk cannot be achieved,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
“People want to see him up close and he’s pleased to see them closely too. A zero risk doesn’t seem realistic in a situation in which there’s a direct rapport with the people.”
Vatican security officials would, the spokesman added, nonetheless review the episode and “try to learn from experience”.

Berlusconi, who is recovering from a violent attack in Milan earlier in the month, spoke to Italian TV after the attack on the Pope.
“We must really fight back against all these manufacturers of lies, extremism and hatred,” he said.
It is still unclear what had motivated Ms Maiolo, who holds dual Swiss and Italian nationality.
She told doctors she had not wanted to hurt the pontiff, Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper said in a report on its online edition.

The same paper quoted Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and head of the Italian bishops’ conference, as saying: “Nothing serious happened. It was a woman who tried to greet the Holy Father.”
However, French Cardinal Paul Poupard, who was with the pontiff at the time of the incident, said it had been “definitely a threat to the Pope.”

“With hindsight, you would say greater vigilance was needed, so those in charge of security should not let their guard drop even for a second,” he added.
The Pope is protected by a combination of Swiss Guards, Vatican Police and Italian Police.
The most serious attack on a Pope in modern times was that on Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II, who was shot and seriously wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in 1981 as he rode in an open jeep in the Vatican.

Full schedule
Pope Benedict delivered his traditional Christmas message at the Vatican on Friday, appearing undaunted by the earlier incident.

More violence in Palestine
Israeli troops have killed six Palestinians - three in the Gaza Strip and three in the West Bank.
The Israeli military said three Palestinians suspected of trying to infiltrate from Gaza were killed in an air strike near the Erez crossing.

It is the largest number of deaths in a day since the Gaza conflict a year ago.
Separately, Israeli forces said they had killed three men - who were suspected of killing a Jewish settler - in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Palestinian sources in Nablus say two of those killed were militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
The faction was one of two groups which said they had killed the settler, a father of seven, two days ago - the first fatal shooting of an Israeli by militants in the occupied West Bank for eight months.

Eyewitnesses said the Israeli raid began in the early hours of the morning and lasted for several hours.
They said there had not been a raid like this in Nablus for about a year and a half, the BBC’s Bethany Bell reports from Jerusalem.
The violence came a day before the first anniversary of the Gaza war that killed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

A Carribbean fire
A fire on board a Greek cargo ship off the Caribbean coast of Venezuela has killed nine members of the crew.
The blaze reportedly broke out early on Friday in an engine room of the Aegean Wind and spread upwards.
The vessel, which was carrying iron ore from Brazil to Texas, was about 160km (100 miles) north of Venezuela, near Margarita Island.

Venezuela’s navy helped in the rescue. Five injured people were airlifted and taken to hospital on the mainland.
Admiral Carlos Maximo Aniasi, commander of Venezuela’s navy, said the blaze had spread upward on the vessel which had a 24-strong crew.

“Nine bodies were found in different compartments of the Greek ship,” he told Venezuelan state media.
The bodies belonged to nine sailors - six Filipinos and three Greeks - reported missing earlier in the day.
Two Philippine nationals suffered third-degree burns on their face and hands and three Greek crewmates had less severe burns, said Rafael Lugo, the national commander of Venezuela’s Maritime Rescue and Aid service.

The 10 surviving crew members, including a woman, were on the deck, Lugo told Reuters news agency.
The cause of the blaze was unknown and the Aegean Sea would be towed to Margarita, Adm Aniasi added.