Dissidents in Cuba have occupied a Catholic Church, demanding Pope Benedict press for political freedom in the country, religious and dissident sources said, according to an AFP report on Yahoo 7 News.
Cuba's Church slammed the move as "illegitimate and irresponsible".
"This is a coordinated, planned strategy by groups in different regions around the country. It is not some whim... it was arranged apparently to create critical situations ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's visit," said a statement from the archdiocese led by Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
The protesters, five women and eight men, are members of the outlawed opposition Republican Party of Cuba (PRC), group member Julio Beltran told AFP.
The group entered the Our Lady of Charity church in central Havana late Tuesday and spent the night. By late Wednesday, they were still on the scene.
The protesters' demands include unconditional freedom for political prisoners, an end to repression and persecution of regime opponents, access to uncensored news and freedom of travel.
Dissidents occupy Catholic church in Cuba (Yahoo 7 News/AFP)
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