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Area near Jesus’ baptism site being cleared of land mines

QASR EL-YAHUD, West Bank (AP) — A new project is underway to rid the area surrounding Jesus’ baptism site in the West Bank of land mines.

Workers will carefully remove the last relics of war that have blemished the sacred place for nearly five decades.

The effort, which started earlier this month, carries particular weight because of its importance to the world’s Christians and the delicate international diplomacy it took to get the effort off the ground.

The project’s organizers had to navigate a virtual minefield of often quarreling church denominations, as well as Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Christians believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus at the site, a lush stretch of the Jordan River flanked by desert — Christianity’s third holiest site after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

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