As Sri Lanka's army struggles to halt a fierce onslaught from Tamil rebels in the north of the country, churches are praying for peace and giving their support to continuing efforts to end the conflict."Round-the-clock prayers are being said in churches by turn," the president of the National Christian Council (NCC) of Sri Lanka, Roy Rebeira, told ENI in a telephone interview on May 24 from Colombo, the capital. He added:"We have signed a statement today urging all churches to observe June 16 as a day of prayer for peace."The NCC groups Sri Lanka's mainstream Protestant churches-Anglicans, Baptists, Dutch Reformed, Methodists, Presbyterians, the Church of South India and the Salvation Army. Together these organizations have 130,000 members in a total population of about 18 million. Sri Lanka's biggest faith groups are Buddhist (69 percent) and Hindu (15 percent). About 8 percent are Christian and 8 percent Muslim.The call for prayer for peace has also been endorsed by the Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (EASL)-which includes about 60,000 Christians in 40 member churches-and by dozens of smaller evangelical groups.The statement is the latest in a long series of urgent calls by churches and other faiths for more serious efforts to end the civil war. The Catholic Church, which accounts for nearly 85 percent of Sri Lanka's 1.3 million Christians, has already called for May 28 to be observed in churches as a day of prayer to resolve the 17-year ethnic conflict.Since 1983, members of the separatist rebel group, the LTTE (Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam-known as the Tamil Tigers), have been waging war against rule by the Sinhala-speaking Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka. Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict. ...1
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