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Wednesday, 4 October, 2000, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Pope's call over Guinea killings
Sierra leonean refugees in Guinea
Frightened refugees return to their own countries
Pope John Paul II has appealed for an end to violence in the West African state of Guinea.

Speaking in St Peter's Square the Pope said he was particularly disturbed by attacks on Roman Catholic missionaries and refugees who have fled there from the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"For weeks, disturbing reports have been received of bloody attacks in Guinea against the local population and against refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone," the 80-year-old pontiff told pilgrims.

The Pope addresses the crowd
The Pope talked about "disturbing violence"

"I ask in the name of God that the perpetrators desist from such acts of violence and respect the rights of all, in particular those who are refugees and who are already living in a precarious situation," he added.

His call came as three rebels and two Guinean soldiers died during an attack on the border with Liberia in the south-east region of Koyama.

There has been a sharp rise in anti-foreign feeling in Guinea since rebels carried out a series of border attacks from Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Some 200 Guineans are reported to have been killed.

Refugees

Guinea hosts nearly half a million refugees from the two countries and tension has been running high since September, when President Lansana Conteh accused them of supporting rebels and told them to leave.


The United Nations refugee agency says more than 16,000 people from Sierra Leone have fled back home from Guinea in the past month.

They have made the journey by boat or on foot, despite the UN saying that Sierra Leone is still too dangerous for repatriation.

According to the UNHCR about 5,000 Liberians and Sierra Leoneans were detained by security forces and vigilantes last month for "identity screening".

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See also:

04 Oct 00 | Africa
'Liberian rebels' attack Guinea
30 Sep 00 | Africa
Attack in Guinea kills nearly 70
25 Sep 00 | Africa
Liberia turns up the heat
15 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea: Crisis long in the making
12 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea refugee tension rises
10 Sep 00 | Africa
No halt to Guinea crackdown
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