Church leaders are demanding an in-depth investigation into the controversial accident in which the Peruvian air force opened fire on a Cessna 185 floatplane April 20.

The Peruvian officers mistakenly thought that the plane, flying from the Colombian border towards the city of Iquitos, 600 miles northeast of Lima, was ferrying drug-traffickers. Two of the passengers, an American missionary from the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), Veronica "Roni" Bowers, and her 7-month-old daughter, Charity, were killed instantly when bullets tore through the fuselage.

"We are extremely concerned about this incident, and profoundly lament the loss of human life. We demand that this incident be investigated until it is fully clarified," says Victor Arroya, executive director of the National Evangelical Council of Peru. "The public has a right to know what really happened."

Kevin Donaldson, pilot of the Cessna 185 floatplane, was able to make an emergency landing in the Amazon River, despite gunshot wounds to both legs. Veronica's husband, Jim Bowers and their six-year-old son, Cory, were unharmed.

"We were deeply shocked, scandalized," said Anglican Bishop William Godfrey, of Lima. "Who makes one group lord over someone else's life? To shoot down a plane is to condemn its occupants to death without giving them the benefit of the doubt."

The bishop added that it was essential that every effort be made to keep anything similar from happening in the future.

"It was a terrible mistake that must never be repeated," said Amparo Huaman, director of Peru Solidarity Forum, a U.S.-funded Catholic organization in Lima which provides extensive support to Catholic missionaries. "It is the duty of the Peruvian authorities to carry out an ...

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