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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Priests among hundreds killed in Congo
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¬†Pope John Paul II has called on Christians to renounce violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the news at least two Roman Catholic priests and others had been killed at a church in Bunia city on Sunday. On Monday, ethnic Hema fighters took the town from their Lendu rivals, who now say they are trying to retake it. Most of the city's population of 300,000 has fled the fighting. But a local human rights group, Justice Plus, said that residents had already identified 112 people killed during the week-long clashes. They now fear an outbreak of cholera as there are no toilets, not much food or water, and no shelter for the population. The Kinshasa government sent 600 special police to Bunia when the Ugandan army started its pullout, but only 100 remain. The rest have all fled. The UN has about 700 troops, mainly Uruguayans, based in the town where some 10,000 residents are seeking refuge at the UN compound as street battles rage. Congolese Human Rights Minister Ntumba Luaba is said to be among those sheltering at the UN compound. He was held hostage last year for a week by Hema militants in Bunia before being released unharmed. UN officials have compared recent killings and racial tensions in the area to the start of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, sent a message on behalf of the Pope to Bishop Leonard Dhejju of Bunia today. He said: "Very upset by the dramatic events that caused the deaths of Fathers Francois Xavier Cateso and Aime Ndjabu of the parish of Nyakasanza, the Holy Father entrusts the deceased, as well as all persons who have been killed in the same circumstances, to the infinite mercy of the God of love and peace. He wishes to express his great sympathy to you and he asks you to assure the families of the victims, as well as the Christians of the parish in Nyakasanza, of his prayers. The Pope invites everyone to commit themselves each day to following Christ by refusing violence, which is a path without a future, and to build a lasting peace founded on justice and respect for persons. As a sign of his comfort, His Holiness imparts his apostolic blessing to all persons touched by this mourning." The Missionary News Service report that that the leadership of Bunia has changed but the city remains the scene of 'indiscriminate violence and pillaging'. It reports a spokesman in Bunia said: "The humanitarian situation is already serious and risks becoming disastrous if the international community does not take immediate action in aid of these people ≠ we have been without power, water and food for 5 days, if aid does not arrive we will have to assist another tragedy". Source: MISNA/BBC
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