Workers walk past a banner with a picture of Pope Francis at Sarajevo city stadium on June 5, 2015
Sarajevo (AFP) - Pope Francis arrived in Sarajevo on Saturday for a visit aimed at bolstering reconciliation between war-scarred Bosnia's Serb, Croat and Muslim communities.
The one-day trip comes 20 years after the end of a 1992-95 conflict that ripped the Balkan state apart and left it permanently divided along ethnic lines.
Around 5,000 police officers were on duty for the ten-hour visit, during which more than 100,000 people are expected to turn out to see the Argentinian pontiff.
As Francis's plane touched down just after 0700 GMT, tens of thousands of people were already waiting for him in Sarajevo's Olympic stadium ahead of an open air mass later in the day.
"I am here because I want peace across the whole world and an end to war and hate," said Branimir Vujca, 50, a doctor from Kiseljac in central Bosnia, who had come with his wife and three children.
Around 20,000 visitors from neighbouring Croatia, which is predominately Catholic, were expected to join the crowds.
"Sarajevo has been called the Jerusalem of the West," Francis told reporters on his flight from Rome. "It is a city that has suffered much in its history but is now on a beautiful path of peace.
"That is why I am making this trip, as a sign of peace and a prayer for peace."
While the Vatican has played down security concerns surrounding the trip, local media have made much of a video published this week by a group of Islamists claiming to be members of the Islamic State (IS) who called for jihad in the Balkans.
More than a third of Bosnia's mostly Catholic Croats have left Bosnia since the war and the country of 3.8 million people is divided in two between a Bosnian Serb republic and a Croat-Muslim federation.
Sarajevo, once a beacon of multiculturalism, is also now largely split along ethnic lines.
Against that backdrop, Vatican officials believe Francis can have a positive impact by promoting the kind of inter-faith dialogue he holds dear.
The trip is Francis's eighth abroad in just over two years as the leader of the world's Catholics.
Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State who heads up the Holy See's diplomacy, said a key goal of the trip would be boosting the morale of the Catholic community.
"The consequences of war have been felt particularly by the Catholic community. In some parishes there are very few families left, many of them elderly," Parolin said.
"In December the 20th anniversary of the war will be remembered but the traces and the wounds of war are still there."
- Open air mass -
The highlights of the day will be the stadium mass for 65,000 people and a meeting between the pontiff and representatives of the Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim communities, as well as the small Jewish community.
Around 40 percent of the population of Bosnia is of Islamic heritage, just over 30 percent are from the Serbian Orthodox tradition and around one in ten, almost uniquely Croats, describe themselves as Catholics.
Bosnian authorities acknowledge the country has a problem of radicalisation among a small part of the Islamic community and the video served to heighten security concerns, although the Vatican has been insisting they do not see the trip as high-risk.
The visit comes a month after a Bosnian Islamist shot one policeman dead and injured two others in an attack in the northeast.
The incident led Security Minister Dragan Mektic to describe the terror threat in Bosnia as serious and growing, partly as a legacy of jihadists having come to the country to help Bosnian Muslim forces during the war.
Francis is the second pope to visit Sarajevo. Jean-Paul II famously visited during a severe snowstorm in 1997. Six years later the Polish pope returned to Bosnia for a visit to the Bosnian Serb capital Banja Luka.