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Pope to Venezuela: avoid more violence, respect human rights

Pope Francis speaks on the occasion of an audience with members of the Catholic Action association, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday April 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has appealed to leaders of Venezuela’s government and society to avoid any more violence as he cited the mounting number of dead, injured and prisoners.

Francis told faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday that, united in sorrow with the families of victims, he was making a heartfelt appeal to “the government and all the components of the Venezuelan society so that every further form of violence is avoided, human rights are respected and negotiated solutions are sought.”

He said Venezuelans were worn out from the grave “humanitarian, social, political and economic crises” afflicting the country.

Francis prayed for “peace, reconciliation and democracy” for that “beloved” nation.

Venezuelans are demanding elections and the release of political prisoners. Nearly daily clashes have claimed at least 28 lives and hundreds injured.

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