Pope Francis prays for Nicaragua, victims in African attacks

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis prayed on Sunday for the victims of attacks in Nigeria and Mali, and for the success of talks underway in Nicaragua aimed at solving a yearlong political crisis in the country.

“Let’s pray for the numerous victims of the recent inhuman attacks in Nigeria and Mali. May the Lord welcome these victims, heal the wounded, console loved ones and convert cruel hearts,” Francis said.

At least 134 people were killed on Saturday in a massacre in Mali, according to the United Nations. In Nigeria, dozens have been killed in Boko Haram attacks this week.

Francis also addressed the crisis in Nicaragua after leading a prayer Sunday to a crowd at St. Peter’s Square. Francis, who is from Argentina, described the talks between Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s administration and opposition delegations as “important.”

“I accompany the initiative with prayer and encourage the parties to find a peaceful solution for the good of all as soon as possible,” the pope said.

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The Nicaraguan crisis was triggered last April when cuts to social security benefits led to protests that evolved into calls for Ortega’s resignation. Security forces responded with violent repression. Human rights groups say at least 325 people died and hundreds were imprisoned.

The unrest also devastated Nicaragua’s economy.

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