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Liberia Churches Cancel Strike

Churches in Liberia have called off a strike that has left much of the war-torn country without essential services from hospitals and schools. The strike had to do with a dispute between a politician and a Catholic leader.

People in the capital, Monrovia, welcomed the churches' decision to end the strike, which had shut down church-run hospitals and schools.

With most of Liberia's infrastructure destroyed after years of civil war, many health and education services in the country are provided by Christian church groups.

The strike action, announced last Friday, was held in protest against comments made by a member of parliament against Monrovia's Roman Catholic bishop, Michael Francis.

Lawmaker Sando Johnson, a political ally of President Charles Taylor, accused the bishop of being involved in the killings of five American nuns during the country's civil war in the 1990s. Mr. Johnson did not present any substantial evidence to support his allegation.

Bishop Francis, an outspoken critic of the government, has for years said he believes it was the men who were fighting for then-rebel leader Charles Taylor who killed the nuns. Mr. Taylor, who became president in 1997, has denied his forces killed the five Americans.

The strike widened Monday when Liberia's largest Christian union, the Liberian Council of Churches, joined the protest.

Religious leaders held a four hour meeting later Monday with President Charles Taylor, before deciding to call off the strike.

Church-run schools and hospitals have resumed full operations.