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Go: Pope Francis is joined by two children who release doves during the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter's Square
  • Tens of thousands of people were watching in St Peter's Square
  • Seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves today
  • They had been set free from open window of the Apostolic Palace
Two white doves released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture today were attacked by other birds.

As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter's Square, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.

One dove lost some feathers as it broke free from the gull. But the crow pecked repeatedly at the other dove. It was not clear what happened to the doves as they flew off.

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Attack: Two white doves had been sent fluttering into the air as a peace gesture by Italian children

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Watch out: A dove which was freed by children flanked by Pope Francis is chased by a black crow
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Crow fought the wings of a dove: While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died
While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, after at least three people were killed during the latest clashes in the two-month crisis.

Police and demonstrators in Kiev fought again as protests against President Viktor Yanukovich's abrupt turn away from the European Union towards Russia, Ukraine's former Soviet overlord.

'I am close to Ukraine in prayer, in particular to those who have lost their lives in recent days and to their families,' Francis said in his weekly Angelus in St Peter's Square.

'I hope that a constructive dialogue between the institutions and civil society can take place, that any resort to violence is avoided and that the spirit of peace and a search for the common good is in the hearts of all.'

The mass rallies against President Yanukovich's rule erupted last November after he pulled out of a free trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer economic ties with Russia.

They have since spiralled into protests against misrule and corruption among Ukraine's leaders and officials.

There have been violent clashes with police in Kiev city centre, resulting in the death of three protesters last week, two from gunshot wounds.