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Mali's Catholic Church demands tougher regional stance against Islamists


Malian forces conduct search operations June 19 after a terrorist attack at the Le Campement Kangaba resort outside the capital of Bamako. Mali's Catholic Church has urged a common front against Islamist violence, after Al Qaida-linked terrorists attacked a the resort June 18, days before the creation of the country's first cardinal. (CNS photo/EPA)

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OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Mali's Catholic church has urged a common front against Islamist violence after al-Qaida-linked terrorists attacked a tourist resort just days before the creation of the country's first cardinal.

"Although our church hasn't been directly targeted, it's deeply affected by such attacks," said Msgr. Edmond Dembele, secretary-general of the Mali Catholic bishops' conference.

"The international community should urgently help Mali and other countries in this region to curb these outrages. When the people of Mali are struck in this way, neighboring states are struck as well. The echoes of fear and insecurity are felt throughout Africa," he said.

Meanwhile, authorities continued the investigation into the June 18 attack on Le Campement Kangaba resort, east of the capital Bamako, which left nine dead, including four assailants.

Msgr. Dembele told Catholic News Service June 21 that sporadic rocket attacks on military and civilian targets across the country had fueled "popular tensions," as well as fears of intercommunal violence between Christians and Muslims.

"For now, this isn't an interreligious conflict. No one has been attacked because of their faith," Msgr. Dembele said.

"But we're worried the situation could deteriorate rapidly. As long as there's a lack of security, no one feels safe and sheltered, and anyone can be caught suddenly by the violence," he said.

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