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Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile


VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis renewed an appeal on Wednesday for an end to violence in Democratic Republic of Congo, where security forces have gunned down protesters during pro-democracy demonstrations called by the local Catholic Church.

"Unfortunately, worrying news continues to arrive from the Democratic Republic of Congo," Francis told a crowd in St. Peter's Square after a regular general audience.

"I, therefore, renew my appeal that everyone make all efforts to avoid any form of violence. From its side, the Church wants nothing other than to contribute to peace and to the common good of society."

The Catholic Church, which is highly influential in Congo, has become increasingly vocal in its condemnation of President Joseph Kabila's insistence on staying in office long after the end of his mandate.

At least six people were killed and dozens wounded as government-backed forces dispersed a protest on Sunday.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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