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1997: Bosnian bomb plot fails to stop Pope
The Pope arrived in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, this afternoon at the start of a two-day visit to the war-torn city undeterred by the discovery of a plan to kill him.

Just hours earlier Bosnian police found at least 20 anti-tank mines under a bridge on the road between the airport and the city - the route planned for the Pope and his entourage.

They found the explosives after a tip-off from a member of the public. He had seen someone acting suspiciously in the area, which had been checked by security forces only last night.

Roads near the bridge were closed while the bombs were taken away and defused.

Never again war. Never again hatred and intolerance
Pope John Paul II
A Vatican spokesman played down the incident and said the travel schedule would go-ahead as planned.

Pope John Paul II had wanted to visit Sarajevo at the height of the war in September 1994, when the city was under siege by Serbs. But the Serbs had said they could not guarantee his safety and the trip was cancelled.

Today at Sarajevo International Airport the frail pontiff was protected by an unprecedented number of police, as Nato helicopters circled over head.

He waved to crowds from the door of his plane, then made his way down the ramp to kiss a box filled with Bosnian soil.

The visit aims to ease tensions between, Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic Croats and Muslims, living together in a federation created by the Dayton Peace Accord two years ago.

He preached reconciliation in Serbo-Croat, saying: "Never again war. Never again hatred and intolerance."

But Bosnia is still a deeply divided nation - so much so that Serbian and Croatian members of Bosnia's three-member presidency could not agree on a national anthem and none was played for the Pope's arrival.

Momlico Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the presidency, refused to attend the welcoming ceremony because, as an Orthodox Christian, he does not recognise the Pope.

But the Muslim member and chairman of the presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, was there to greet the Pope in "this martyr city".

He praised the pontiff for speaking out about Bosnia's suffering during the Balkan War that lasted 43 months.

The Pope then travelled by glass-topped, armoured Popemobile along the road once referred to as Sniper Alley waving to the faithful until he arrived at the Roman Catholic cathedral for Mass.

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Pope John Paul II steps off the plane at Sarajevo
The Pope arrived in Sarajevo hours after bombs were found under a nearby bridge



In Context
Between 1992 and 1995 around 250,000 people died in the conflict between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs - part of the break-up of Yugoslavia. A Nato-led Stabilisation Force, S-For, remains responsible for safeguarding peace and stability.

The Pope's visit in 1997 came in the wake of a series of tit-for-tat bombing attacks on Catholic churches and mosques.

The day after his arrival, he held a mass at the Kosevo sports stadium for about 40,000 people.

Once again security was extremely high with about 11,000 police on duty, snipers on rooftops and Nato helicopters flying overhead.

Apart from the tensions in the region, there was good reason for the tight security as there had already been one assassination attempt on the Pope in 1981, when he was shot and seriously wounded in St Peter's square.

The Pope died at 2137 (1937 GMT) on Saturday 2 April 2005 after he failed to recover from a throat operation due to breathing problems.

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