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Burundi’s bishops urge nation to turn back from ‘abyss of war’

Catholic World News - December 14, 2011

Burundi’s bishops are urging government and opposition forces to “avoid the abyss of war,” even as the United Nation’s leading envoy there offered an optimistic assessment of the nation’s future.

“We invite you to forcefully reject war and everything that could plunge back into violence in our country,” the bishops said in their Christmas message. “If we do not commit ourselves to doing everything in our power, there is a risk that the country falls into the horrors of another war, while they are still open wounds.”

Conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi left 160,000 dead in 1972-73 and at least 150,000 dead between 1993 and 1996.

“In recent times, murders and massacres have passed all measures,” the bishops wrote. “It goes beyond ordinary crimes, such as those arising from the robbery, by land conflicts and of interest: the country is threatened by bloody crimes for political reasons and of which one accuses all parties in conflict.”

“People are kidnapped, only to be murdered, thrown in rivers, without leaving any trace, even to the point of mutilating them in order not to be recognized,” they added.

The nation of 9.9 million is 67% Catholic.

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