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Pope blasts terror and the lack of help for refugees

By AP Reporters

Pope Francis tempered his Easter Sunday message of Christian hope with a denunciation of "blind" terrorism, recalling victims of attacks in Europe, Africa and elsewhere.

And he also expressed his dismay that people fleeing war or poverty were being denied a welcome as European countries squabble over the refugee crisis.

Tens of thousands of people patiently endured long lines, backpack inspections and metal-detecting checks Sunday to enter St Peter's Square.

Under a brilliant sun they listened to Francis deliver the traditional noon Easter speech from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica.

To their delight, Francis completed a whirl through the square in his open-topped Popemobile after celebrating Mass on the steps of the basilica. He leaned over barriers to shake hands as the vehicle ventured past the Vatican's confines, with his bodyguards jogging alongside.

For years Islamist extremists in social media have listed the Vatican and Rome as potential targets due to hosting the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

Despite the threats, Francis has kept to his habit of trying to be in close contact with ordinary people.

In his speech Francis cited recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Iraq.

He called the message of Easter "a message of life for all humanity".

Easter "invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees - including many children - fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice", he said.

As he has done repeatedly, Francis lamented that "all too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance".

Some European countries have erected barbed-wire fences and other barriers to keep out those who continue to arrive on Greek and Italian shores after risky sea voyages on smugglers' boats.

Francis also decried the destruction and "contempt for humanitarian law" in Syria, millions of whose people have fled to Europe.

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