( [email protected] ) Jul 07, 2003 06:35 AM EDT

In what is believe to be the first incident of religious violence in modern times in the country, several churches and offices of an American children's charity were recently attacked by a Muslim mob.

The southern African nation's army was deployed to quell violent riots after demonstrators attacked Save the Children and the congregations last Friday and Saturday to protest the removal of five Muslim foreign nationals suspected of working for Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

A Muslim, President Bakili Muluzi said he would not allow religious violence to threaten peace in Malawi. Leaders of the Christian community, which comprise 80 percent of the population, urged restraint.

"Pray that the Christians in Malawi will not retaliate against these attacks," The U.K.-based Barnabas Fund (BF) said. "Pray that the normally peaceful co-existence of Christians and Muslims in Malawi will be restored." BF said the attacks caused extensive damage to property and injured three people.