Pope laments Libya’s “many deaths,” urges aid

VATICAN CITY—Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday lamented the deaths and humanitarian crisis caused by the fighting in Libya between forces loyal to longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi and those demanding his ouster.

“My heartfelt thoughts go out to Libya, where recent clashes have caused many deaths and a growing humanitarian crisis,” Benedict said in his first public comments on the fighting in the north African country.

“To all the victims and to those who find themselves in situations of anguish, I assure my prayers and my closeness, while I call for aid and help for the stricken populations,” the pope said.

Last week, the pope was briefed at the Vatican by the head of the U.N. World Food Program on the crisis on the Libyan-Tunisian border, where tens of thousands of Egyptian and other immigrant workers have been massing after fleeing Libya.

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