Hutu rebels surrounded a village outside the capital of Burundi last Thursday and demanded money from the villagers. Anyone who didn't pay was killed and 211 of the mainly women and children were killed. One hundred rebels and four government soldiers were also killed during a simultaneous assault on a nearby army base.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Islamic fundamentalist rebels in Algeria killed 412 people, hacking them axes or slitting their throats, More than 65,000 people have been killed since 1992 after the ruling party voided general elections which the Islamists were about to win. Pope John Paul condemned both massacres in a Sunday address in St. Peter's Square, calling again for an end to such "systematic" violence.
At his Angelus address on January 4, the Holy Father spoke of his concern over the continuation of ethnic and religious violence around the world. "Once again," he said, "I voice my profound condemnation of these bloody acts, which can only shake the conscience. It is not by the path of violence that we can reach a better future!"
The Pope denounced "senseless fratricidal wars" and urged responsible leaders to recognize the fundamental demands of human dignity.
In Algeria, the Pontiff said, a great number of people were killed on the eve of New Year's in a "cruel atrocity." He also pointed to the "furious armed attack" which took place the following day on unarmed civilians in Burundi.