Pope: Religion must reject violence

YAOUNDE, Cameroon - Religion must reject violence, Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim leaders Thursday before celebrating an open-air Mass in front of thousands and delivering a message of hope for Africa's expanding, vibrant Catholic flock.

In Cameroon's capital of Yaounde, a clapping, swaying crowd of 40,000 welcomed Benedict to a sports stadium - his first occasion as pope to be among a great crowd of faithful on the continent that is witnessing the church's biggest growth.

In his homily, Benedict expressed compassion for African children being kidnapped and forced to fight by rebel groups trying to carve up parts of Africa.

'God loves you, he has not forgotten you,' he said in a message to these children.

Bin Laden to Somalis: Kick out president

NAIROBI, Kenya - Osama bin Laden urged Somalis on Thursday to overthrow their new president, issuing a statement that clearly outlines al-Qaida's ambitions in a nation long feared to be a haven for the terrorist network.

Bin Laden's 11 1/2-minute audiotape was entirely focused on Somalia, an impoverished country in the Horn of Africa that has been in chaos for nearly two decades, torn apart by warlords and Islamic militant groups. In January, parliament elected President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed.

Militants' rocket in Pakistan kills 8 in tribal area

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Suspected Taliban militants fired a rocket that killed eight people in a northwest Pakistan town Thursday, in an attack targeting security forces near a key supply route for international forces in Afghanistan, an official said.

The militants fired three rockets near a base used by Pakistani security forces in the town of Lanvi Kotal, about 6 miles west of the Afghan border, said Rashid Khan, a government administrator.

One of them hit the town's commercial area, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 30 and setting fire to a timber yard and a string of nearby shops, Khan said. The other two struck villages outside town, and it was not immediately known if there were casualties.