Nigerian blasts mar pope's Christmas peace appeal

By NICOLE WINFIELD | December 25, 2011 | 8:56 AM EST

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing as he leaves after celebrating Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas plea for peace around the world has been brutally ignored in Nigeria, where an explosion claimed by Muslim radicals ripped through a Catholic church during Mass.

Authorities say at least 25 people were killed Sunday by the explosion at the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, near the Nigerian capital of Abuja. A radical Muslim sect waging a sectarian fight claimed the attack and another bombing on a church in the central Nigerian city of Jos.

Benedict didn't refer explicitly to the bombings in his Christmas Day survey of the world's trouble spots. The Vatican issued a statement later denouncing them as a sign of "cruelty and absurd, blind hatred" that shows no respect for human life.