SUPERIORS of women's religious orders with convents in Yugoslavia expressed their grave concern this week for the safety of nuns still living in the country wracked by civil war.
The superiors expressed "deep pain and fear on account of the destruction and crimes being committed against innocent people".
They said they feared especially for the lives of the 650 sisters in 118 religious houses in the ethnically mixed republic of Bosnia-Herzogovina, which includes the Marian mountain shrine of Medjugorje.
The women religious appealed to the international community to help stop the bloodshed and promote a permanent peace in Bosnia-Herzogovina and neighbouring Croatia.
More than 300 people are reported to have been killed since the violence in BosniaHerzogovina erupted two months ago, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.
Fighting flared up again this week in Mostar, the nearest sizeable town to Medjugorje.
The Franciscan convent in Mostar has been badly damaged by a grenade attack. Some of the elderly nuns were taken into the surrounding mountains for safety.
The shrine at Medjugorje, remains without water supplies and electricity. No telephone lines are operational. The women and children of the village have been evacuated to the Adriatic coast, while the men have stayed behind to defend their homes.
Reports on Serbian radio that men from Medjugorje have attacked army positions have been strenuously denied.