April 16, 2015 / 12:47 PM / in 3 years

Pope pleas to Kenya university gunmen to 'come to their senses'

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Thursday appealed to Somali Islamist militants who killed 148 people at a Kenyan university this month to stop their brutality and “come to their senses”.

Pope Francis speaks during a mass on 100th anniversary of Armenian mass killings in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

He told Kenyan bishops visiting the Vatican that he prayed for those killed by acts of terror, ethnic and tribal hostilities in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

“I think most especially of the men and women killed at Garissa University College,” the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics said.

“May those who commit such brutality come to their senses and seek mercy.”

The gunmen hunted down Christians while sparing Muslims in the attack on April 2. Francis has repeatedly expressed alarm about Christians being targeted for their faith and condemned the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February.

He urged the visiting bishops to work with Christian and non-Christian leaders to promote peace in predominantly-Christian Kenya.

Al Shabaab said Garissa was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight alongside African Union peacekeepers against the Islamist group.

(This version of the story removes pope’s reference in paragraph 3 to the attack taking place on Good Friday, April 3. The attack was on April 2.)

Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Philip Pullella and Jon Boyle

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