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Pope calls for release of 2 bishops in Syria

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April 23, 2013 07:47 AM EST | AP

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is calling for the rapid release of two bishops kidnapped by gunmen in Syria while on a humanitarian mission.

Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church and John Ibrahim of the Assyrian Orthodox Church were abducted as they traveled from the Turkish border to the city of Aleppo on Monday. Their driver was killed. It was not immediately clear who was responsible.

The pope on Tuesday called the abduction is `'a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian population and its Christian community is living. `'

In the past week, government troops have overrun villages near the Lebanese border and suburbs of Damascus, including two districts west of the capital where activists say regime forces killed more than 100 people.