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SMALL DEVICE EXPLODES NEAR CHURCH IN HAVANA

A small explosive device, possibly a firecracker, exploded before dawn Saturday outside a Havana church less than a month before a landmark visit to the island by Pope John Paul.

Officials at the Church of Merced near the port in old Havana said the device made a loud noise, but caused no damage or injuries.

The church secretary, Miguel Saludes, said he had no idea who might have planted the device but thought it could be linked to the Jan. 21-25 papal visit to the Communist-ruled island.

"Perhaps it was someone who wants to create tensions with the visit of the pope, who doesn't agree with the visit," Saludes said.

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