European leaders, Vatican condemn Nigeria Christmas attacks
European leaders and the Vatican on Sunday roundly condemned a wave of Christmas Day bomb attacks in Nigeria that killed at least 35 people amid spiralling violence claimed by Islamists.
"Even on Christmas Day, the world is not spared from cowardice and the fear of terrorism," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
"Tolerance ... and the willingness to resolve conflicts through peaceful means are not just the message of the Christian holiday of Christmas and other religions of the world. They can also be the key to peace, freedom and prosperity of entire regions."
Thirty of the victims died in the bombing of a church outside the Nigerian capital Abuja, an attack claimed by a purported spokesman for Islamist group Boko Haram.
In another attack, a suicide bomber sought to ram a military convoy in front of a secret police building in the northeastern city of Damaturu, killing the bomber and three security agents.
The church blast triggered more chaos after the explosion, with angry youths starting fires and threatening to attack a nearby police station.
"These are cowardly attacks on families gathered in peace and prayer to celebrate a day which symbolises harmony and goodwill towards others," said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"I offer my condolences to the bereaved and injured."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy also condemned the attacks, saying: "France addresses its condolences to the authorities and people of Nigeria and expresses its solidarity in their fight against terrorism and for the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law throughout Nigeria."
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said the attacks struck at "the universal principles of civility."
"I express my strongest condemnation of these vile attacks," he said.
"Italy, which has always been at the forefront in the defence of freedom of religion and the promotion of dialogue and tolerance between religions, will continue to do the utmost ... so that in Nigeria like elsewhere the principles of co-existence between religions and respect for freedom of religion are actively respected and defended."
The Vatican called the attack on the church an act of "blind hatred" that sought "to arouse and feed even more hatred and confusion."
© 2011 AFP