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Pope prays for victims of clashes in Gabon, urges dialogue

Associated Press Associated Press 11/09/2016
Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) © The Associated Press Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has prayed for victims of violent protests in the west African nation of Gabon, calling attention to what he described as a "grave political crisis" in the former French colony.

In remarks to the faithful in St. Peter's Square, Francis on Sunday also encouraged the Gabonese people, particularly Catholics, to be "builders of peace while respecting legality, dialogue and brotherhood."

Gabon was marked by violent protests after the results of an Aug. 27 presidential election were announced. The opposition candidate mounted a legal challenge, accusing the incumbent leader of fraud.

The opposition says as many as 100 people have died in the protests, while the government has put the toll at three.

Francis says he supports an appeal by Gabon's bishops for all sides to renounce violence.

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