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World News

Pope expresses 'deep sadness' over death of Shinzo Abe - as reports claim former PM's alleged attacker harboured religious hatred

by Donna Birrell

The Pope has offered his "heartfelt condolences" to the loved ones of the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was assassinated on Friday.

Pope Francis says he is praying that in the wake of "this senseless act... Japanese society will be strengthened in its historic commitment to peace and nonviolence." 

Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent the telegram expressing the Pope's condolences to the Asian country's Apostolic Nuncio, Leo Boccardi.

Japan's longest-serving modern leader died shortly after being shot while making a campaign speech.

The man accused of gunning down 67 year old Mr Abe is reported to have told police that he harboured a grudge against him for belonging to a religious group that his mother donated large sums of money to leading the family business to go bankrupt.

41 year old Tetsuya Yamagami is said to have told police he acted because of Mr Abe's rumoured connection to an organisation that he resented, but had no problem with the former leader's political view.

Voters in Japan have today gone to the polls in elections which have been overshadowed by the assassination. 

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