Pope urges efforts to end renewed violence in African trouble spots

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI urged local and international efforts to quell renewed violence in African trouble spots.

Addressing pilgrims at his Sunday blessing at the Vatican April 27, the pope cited worsening situations in Somalia, Sudan and Burundi and asked prayers for the innocent people involved.

"The news arriving from some African countries continues to give reason for deep suffering and intense concern. I ask you not to forget these tragic circumstances and the brothers and sisters who are affected," the pope said.

He pointed to a recent escalation of violence in Somalia, especially in the capital of Mogadishu, where rebels have launched attacks on government forces.

The new fighting "has made the humanitarian situation increasingly dramatic for that beloved population, which has been oppressed for too many years under the burden of brutality and misery," the pope said.

He said western Sudan's Darfur region, despite occasional hopes for peace, "remains a tragedy without end for hundreds of thousands of defenseless and abandoned people."

The pope warned of the risk of a "new civil war" in Burundi, where more than 30 people have been killed in recent clashes. He noted that the Vatican embassy in the capital of Bujumbura was among the buildings damaged by recent mortar attacks.

"I invite all the concerned parties to return without delay to the path of dialogue and reconciliation," he said.

He appealed to local, regional and international authorities, as well as to all people of good will, to spare no effort to bring an end to the violence and make sure previous peace commitments are honored.

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