Pope calls on end of violence in East Timor

Pope Benedict XVI appealed Wednesday for an end to the violence shaking mainly Roman Catholic East Timor. "My thoughts now go to the dear nation of East Timor, in these days in the grip of tensions and violence, which have caused death and destruction," the pope told his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square.

"While I encourage the local Church and the Catholic organizations to continue together with other international organizations in the service of assistance to the homeless, I invite you to pray to the Holy Virgin so that she might, with her maternal protection, support the efforts of those who are contributing to the pacifying of souls and a return to normalcy," the pope said.

The violence triggered by the March dismissal of 600 soldiers from the 1,400-member army is the worst East Timor has seen since its bloody break from Indonesia in 1999, which paved the way for full independence in 2002 after years of U.N. administration.

Sporadic clashes last week between the disgruntled soldiers and government troops spiraled into open street violence in Dili that has fluctuated in intensity from day to day. At least 27 people have died, reports the AP.

N.U.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team