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Mass graves in Ivory Coast; leading prelate in hiding

Catholic World News - April 07, 2011

The leading prelate in strife-torn Côte d’Ivoire went to a “hidden place” as forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Oattara prepared to launch their final attack on the palace of President Laurent Gbagbo, who has clung to power after losing an election.

“I am in a hidden place,” said Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan. “Violent fighting continues. We can hear massive explosions.”

Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, the apostolic nuncio, told the Fides news agency that many families fleeing the brutal conflict-- mass graves have been discovered in two cities-- have taken refuge in churches.

“There have been many killings, by the blows from heavy weapons, slaughters, people burned alive, there are kidnappings, looting, etc.,” he said. “Families are fleeing the violence and taking refuge mostly in churches.

“Displaced people are really deprived of everything, because they were forced to leave everything in order to escape,“ he added. “They are lacking food, clean water, medicine and clothes. We are assisting these people by sharing with them the little that we have. But faced with the seriousness of the situation and their great need, we need help.”

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