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The Latest: Pope welcomed to Central African Republic
November 29, 2015 10:51 GMT

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- The latest on Pope Francis' first trip to Africa. (All times local.)


Schoolgirls in yellow and white dresses -- the colors of the Holy See flag -- and authorities from Central African Republic have welcomed Pope Francis at a heavily secured Bangui airport for the final leg of his three-nation African trip.

Francis' Alitalia charter landed just beyond the settlement for displaced residents that has cropped up on the airport's edge, housing some of the people who have been uprooted during two years of sectarian violence in the country.

As Francis emerged, a huge cheer broke out from the small crowd. Troops stood guard in the grasslands off the tarmac, and Francis' bodyguards stood close. A mix of Vatican, U.N. and other security forces were on hand.

Thousands of people lined his motorcade route, cheering even as the press busses passed by, escorted by U.N. troops.

-- Nicole Winfield, Bangui

10:15 a.m.

Pope Francis has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians.

The pope plans to visit a displacement camp later Sunday in Bangui where Christians have sought protection amid the ongoing violence.

On Monday he is due to visit a mosque in the capital's Muslim enclave that has become a shelter for throngs of Muslims driven from their homes.

There were concerns that Francis would cancel his trip to Bangui given the latest wave of violence that has left at least 100 people dead since late September.

Only 15,000 Muslims remain in the capital after ongoing attacks forced more than 100,000 to flee in fear of their lives.

-- Krista Larson, Bangui

10 a.m.

Pope Francis has left Uganda and is on his way to Central African Republic, the third and last leg of his pilgrimage to Africa.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and local Catholic leaders bid him farewell at the international airport in the lakeside town of Entebbe.

In Uganda, Francis honored the memory of a group of Christians, known as the Uganda Martyrs, who were killed in the late 19th century when they refused to renounce their faith. He urged the faithful to emulate the example of the 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs.

He is now embarking on the most challenging part of the trip -- Central African Republic is a country where violence between Christian and Muslim militants has forced nearly 1 million from their homes over the last two years and created a divided capital.

While sectarian clashes have left at least 100 people dead over the last two months, recent days have been relatively free of gunfire, and President Catherine Samba-Panza says the pope is being awaited as a "peace messenger."

-- Rodney Muhumuza, Kampala

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