VIDEO: Pope's doves attacked by birds

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Reports say that the crow pecked at one dove while the other struggled to break free, losing feathers in the process. Screengrab: YouTube
09:56 CET+01:00
Was it a prophetic sign? A gesture of peace turned into a somewhat grisly spectacle at the Vatican on Sunday when two white doves were attacked by a crow and a seagull shortly after being released during prayers.

Two white doves were attacked just moments after being released by two children during the Pope’s weekly Angelus prayer on Sunday. 

The two birds, which symbolize peace, were attacked by a seagull and a crow as tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square, Il Tempo reported.

Reports say that the crow pecked at one dove while the other struggled to break free, losing feathers in the process.

Whether or not the birds survived the incident is unknown.

This isn’t the first time the symbolic releasing of doves from the Apostolic Palace hasn’t gone according to plan.

In January 2012, Pope Benedict attempted to release doves only to have them re-enter through the window through which they were released.

Ironically, Sunday’s gory incident occurred as Pope Francis called for peace in violence-hit Kiev, calling for dialogue between the Ukraine government and opposition amid fears protests could develop into a wider civil conflict.

"I hope for constructive dialogue between the institutions and civil society, and that -- without recourse to violent action -- the spirit of peace and the search for common good may prevail in the hearts of all," he told crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus prayers.

"I am close in my prayers to Ukraine, in particular to those who have lost their lives, and their families," the pontiff said.

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Officials say three people have been killed in the escalating protests in Kiev over the past week, raising fears of a wider civil conflict as protests have spread to outlying regions of Ukraine in the former Soviet republic's worst crisis since independence in 1991.

The protests first erupted in response to President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign a key deal with the European Union in November and a decision to ally closer with former master Russia.

But they have snowballed into anti-government protests against Yanukovych's four-year rule, which the opposition claims has been riddled with corruption and nepotism.

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