DAILY CATHOLIC WEDNESDAY January 27, 1999 vol. 10, no. 18
NEWS & VIEWS
CONGOLESE BISHOPS DENY INVOLVEMENT IN UNREST IN AFRICA WHILE IN INDONESIA PRIEST SAYS MUSLIMS KILLED 40 INDONESIAN CHRISTIANS
BRAZZAVILLE (CWNews.com) - The Congolese Bishops' Conference on Monday issued a statement rejecting suggestions that Catholic priests had instigated rebel forces to infiltrate Brazzaville, igniting a battle with Congo government troops.
Militia groups loyal to ousted Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas have been engaged in fighting with government troops loyal to President Denis Sassou that has forced 50,000 people to flee their homes, seeking refuge at more than 15 churches in the region since December. Last week, state television broadcast statements by a captured militiaman that priests at a seminary where he was taken prisoner were aware of their presence.
The bishops rejected the claim, saying the suggestion endangers the lives of priests and refugees seeking safety in churches. "The Catholic Church is never party to any act aiming to destabilize the public institutions," the statement said.
Meanwhile in Telaga Kodok, Indonesia a Catholic priest in Indonesia's Maluku province said on Tuesday that a Muslim mob had killed 40 Christians, but local police denied the report. The province was rocked by violence last week with an official death toll of 56, not including the latest figures.
Father Stefan Sabong cited witnesses who told him hundreds of Muslim gang members attacked residents of Telaga Kodok with knives and burned a church and other buildings last week. "Most of the houses were set on fire and everybody fled with only the clothes on their backs," Father Sabong said. "The residents said they won't stay again in their homes near here since everything has been demolished," Sabong said.
Col. Karyono S., the regional police chief, denied the
report. "It's impossible the number of Christians killed is
that high," he said. Independent human rights groups said
the death toll could be over 100 in the region once known
as the Spice Islands. Christian and Muslim extremists have
traded violent attacks since last year in mainly Muslim
Indonesia in an unrest partially ignited by a worsening
economic crisis. Many Indonesians believe the Christian
minority unfairly holds the majority of the country's
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NEWS & VIEWS