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Pope's 1st peace appeal: Central African Republic

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March 27, 2013 07:11 AM EST | AP


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has called for an end to the violence and looting that has accompanied the weekend coup in the Central African Republic in his first such appeal for peace since becoming pope.

During his inaugural general audience Wednesday, Francis called for an immediate political solution to the conflict.

More than 1,000 armed rebels from the alliance known as Seleka attacked the capital Bangui on Saturday, forcing longtime President Francois Bozize into exile in neighboring Cameroon. Widespread looting followed, including of hospitals.

Francis, who named himself after St. Francis of Assisi who worked for peace and the poor, has said he will prioritize the poor and disadvantaged during his papacy.