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Mugabe warns churchmen to stay out of politics

Prime Minister Robert Mugabe told Roman Catholic bishops to stay out of his government's affairs as a clash between church and state over army conduct in Matabeleland erupted. There was a similar confrontation last year.

Mr. Mugabe, making his first visit in nine months to the southwestern power base of opposition leader Joshua Nkomo, attacked the seven bishops at a news conference in Matabeleland's provincial capital of Bulawayo on Saturday.

Mugabe said they were trying to undermine successful army counterinsurgency efforts by charging that troops on a sweep against rebels in the area had committed atrocities against civilians, including killings, torture, rape, and beatings.

Mugabe told reporters he wished the bishops ''success in their prayers and the running of their churches, but the task of running the country belongs to the government.''

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