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BETHLEHEM UPDATE - 16.04.2002 - No.2

Between 18.30 and 19.10 (Rome time) this evening, the Franciscan Friars of the Friary at Bethlehem have heard violent shootings and explosions in the vicinity of the Basilica of the Nativity. At the moment it is not possible to precisely know the origin, causes and authors.

Official sources of the Israeli Army assert that the soldiers of the IDF would have engaged in a shooting conflict with the armed Palestinians, blocked inside of the Sanctuary.

Other voices speak about a fire - currently tamed - burst in an area of the Armenian or Greeks monks. At the moment it is not possible to confirm with certainty what had happened.

We notice that in any case this incident is evidence of the instability of the situation which has followed the incursion of armed men and the consequent siege by the military of the complex of the Nativity.

We express gratefulness and appreciation to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who, during the 58th Session of the Commission of Human Rights, being held in Geneva, has stated: "the non respect and the unsuitable use of such placed (Holy Sites), constitutes a violation of international law and the bilateral Agreements ".

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