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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Eritrea church leader 'dismissed'
Eritrea priests
The Orthodox Church has been in Eritrea for 1600 years
The spiritual head of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Patriarch Antonios, has reportedly been removed from his post by the Eritrean government.

Diplomatic sources have confirmed an opposition website report that the patriarch was replaced following a meeting with government officials.

Patriarch Antonios reportedly objected to government interference in the church and the arrest of three priests.

The Orthodox Church is one of the four recognised religions in Eritrea.

The United States and human rights groups have accused the government of persecuting members of other religious groups, such as the Pentecostal Church and Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Orthodox Church was established in Eritrea 1600 years ago and is the largest Christian denomination in the country.

There are similar numbers of Christians and Muslims in Eritrea.

Eritrea suspends US aid efforts
26 Aug 05 |  Africa
Country profile: Eritrea
16 Jul 04 |  Country profiles

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