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Pope Decries Indonesian Violence

March 14, 1999

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Pope John Paul II on Sunday called on those responsible for the fighting between Christians and Muslims in Indonesia to stop the violence and work for peace.

During his weekly appearance from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, John Paul said that the eastern city of Ambon was the center of ``cruel clashes that have upset the traditional harmonious coexistence between Christian and Muslims.″

He also noted that serious religious and ethnic tensions are present elsewhere in Indonesia, which is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades.

The violence has destroyed large areas of Ambon, the capital of Maluku province, leaving more than 200 people dead since January.

``I direct to all, and especially to those who foment the disorders, a pressing appeal to abandon violence, the cause of countless sufferings, and to find again the paths of harmony,″ the pope said, adding he was spiritually close to all the Indonesian population.

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