An Armenian novice monk was shot yesterday in the besieged Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Doctors said last night that 23-year-old Armen Fianian, was in a critical condition at the "Hadassah Ein Kerem" hospital in Jerusalem. Bishop Shirvanian Aris, Director of the Ecumenical and Foreign Relations of the Armenian Patriarchate in the Holy Land, told the Missionary News Service that he was unconscious last night, but doctors managed to stop the bleeding and were planning to operate within a few hours. He described his condition as 'stable'. Armen lives in a monastery adjoining the Church. He was in his room when a bullet hit him in the right shoulder. It is not know whether the shot was fired by a Palestinian or an Israeli. Conditions inside the church complex are deteriorating badly, Franciscan Father Superior Giacomo Bini said that as time passes, fears are growing that the Israelis may decide to storm the building. He said: "The friars, the sisters and religious are very tired, both physically and psychologically. Despite promises by the Israelis to supply water and power, nothing has been done." While criticising the Palestinians for entering the church carrying arms, Fr Bini said the community was not being held hostage. He said: "We will not leave the complex of the Nativity because it would lead to a catastrophe".
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