3 dead, 25 wounded in Baghdad as attacks on Christians continue

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by maomao, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

    Apr 7, 2010
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    3 dead, 25 wounded in Baghdad as attacks on Christians continue

    Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- At least three people were killed and 25 wounded Wednesday morning in continuing attacks on Christians in Iraq, an interior ministry official said.
    The roadside bombs and mortar fire targeted Christian homes in several Baghdad neighborhoods, the official said.
    On Tuesday evening, three people were wounded in western Baghdad when bombs exploded outside Christian homes there, the ministry said.
    It was not clear if the injured were Christian residents or others on the street.
    The latest attacks came as 35 Christian survivors of a chilling church attack last month arrived in France, where they will be able to seek asylum.
    France welcomes church attack survivors
    Iraq's Christians remember victims Dozens dead in Iraqi hostage situation
    A group called the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the gruesome October 31 siege of the Sayidat al-Nejat cathedral that left 70 people dead and 75 wounded. The umbrella group includes a number of Sunni extremist organizations and has ties to al Qaeda in Iraq.
    Worshippers at the church were about to begin Sunday night services when gunmen entered the church, according to Martin Chulov, a journalist for Britain's Guardian newspaper, who was at the scene.
    As many as 120 people were taken hostage, said Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, a U.S. military spokesman. The gunmen held them for hours before security forces stormed in to end the standoff, arresting eight suspects.
    Most of the hostages were killed or wounded when the attackers set off explosives inside the church, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi said.
    At least two of the attackers were wearing explosive vests, which they detonated just minutes before security forces raided the church, police officials said.
    The gunmen were demanding that the Iraqi government release a number of detainees and prisoners in Iraqi prisons, saying the Christian hostages would be freed in return, according to the police officials.
    Iraq's defense minister later said on state television that the kidnappers had demanded the release of a number of prisoners in both Iraq and Egypt.
    The Christian people should leave their beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic cleansing.

    Al Qaeda in Iraq
    "The sword of slaughter will not be lifted off the necks of their followers until they denounce what the dog of the Egyptian church has committed, and until they show the Mujahedeens their serious endeavor to pressure the combatant (Coptic) church for the release of our Muslim sisters, who are captive in the prisons of their monasteries," the militant group said last week.
    Al Qaeda in Iraq later announced that all Christians in the Middle East were now "legitimate targets" after the deadline for the release of the prisoners passed.
    On Sunday, a Syriac Orthodox archbishop in Britain called for all Christians in Iraq to leave the country and slammed the Baghdad government for not doing enough to protect the rights of minorities.
    "I say clearly and now -- the Christian people should leave their beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic cleansing. This is better than having them killed one by one," said Archbishop Athanasios Dawood, according to prepared remarks he sent to CNN.
    The claim that the Coptic Church in Egypt is holding female prisoners is based on widespread rumors of Coptic women in Egypt converting to Islam and being detained by the church in an attempt to compel or persuade them to return to their original faith.
    Both the Egyptian Interior Ministry and the representatives of the Coptic Church in Cairo declined to comment on the matter.
    Copts are adherents of an Egyptian sect of Christianity. About nine percent of Egyptians are Coptic, according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook; 90 percent of Egyptians are Muslim.

  3. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

    Apr 7, 2010
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    Three killed, 26 hurt as Iraqi Christians attacked

    BAGHDAD: A spate of early morning bomb and mortar attacks on homes of Christians in Baghdad Wednesday left at least three people dead and 26 wounded, an interior ministry official said.

    “Two mortar shells and 10 homemade bombs targeted the homes of Christians in different neighbourhoods of Baghdad between 6:00 am and 8:00 am,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    “The toll is three dead and 26 wounded.”

    The attacks come 10 days after 44 Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security forces personnel died during the seizure of a Baghdad cathedral by extremist militants and the ensuing shootout when it was stormed by troops.

    On Tuesday, three homes in the Mansur district of western Baghdad belonging to Christians were firebombed without causing any casualties, an interior ministry source said.

    On November 3, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Baghdad cathedral bloodbath and warned it would further step up attacks on Christians.

    The extremists said they had carried out the church attack to force the release of converts to Islam allegedly being detained by the Coptic Church in Egypt. Days afterwards it declared Christians everywhere “legitimate targets.”

    A senior Iraqi clergyman said at the weekend Iraq’s Christians should leave the country or face being killed at the hands of al Qaeda. “If they stay they will be finished, one by one,” Archbishop Athanasios Dawood told the BBC.

    Iraq’s premier however on Tuesday cautioned other countries not to encourage Christians to abandon their homeland, after France took in dozens of people wounded in the October 31 cathedral attack.

    On his first visit to the church targeted on October 31, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that at a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 he had asked the pontiff “not to let the east be emptied of Christians, nor the West of Muslims.”

    “The countries that have welcomed the victims … of this attack (on the church) have done a noble thing, but that should not encourage emigration,” he said on a visit to the Syriac Catholic cathedral where the massacre occurred.

    Thirty-four Iraqi Christians and a Muslim guard wounded in the incident flew in to France on Monday for admission to hospitals for treatment.

    French Immigration Minister Eric Besson has said this fitted France’s “tradition of asylum” to take them in, and that asylum would be “handed out generously” to those who seek it.

    France plans a second evacuation flight in the coming weeks to bring out a further 93 Christians.

    Besson said that 1,300 Iraqi Christians had been granted asylum in France since autumn 2007, an acceptance rate of 85 percent for asylum-seekers from among the community.

    An estimated 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq before the US-led invasion of 2003 but that number has since shrunk to around 500,000 in the face of repeated attacks against their community and churches.

    Christians in Baghdad have now dwindled to around 150,000, a third of their former population in the capital.

  4. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

    Apr 7, 2010
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    Christian areas targeted in Baghdad attacks

    he BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad explains how Christian areas were specifically targeted in the attacks
    Continue reading the main story
    Struggle for Iraq

    Lives of fear for Iraqi Christians
    Epic political impasse near end?
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    A series of bombings and mortar attacks targeting Christian areas has killed at least five people in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, security sources say.

    Six districts with strong Christian majorities were hit, and at least 24 people have been injured.

    The attacks come days after more than 40 people died when Islamist militants seized a Catholic cathedral.

    The violence comes as top-level talks on resolving the country's political crisis ended without agreement.

    Iraq's political leaders have been negotiating on forming a new government since inconclusive elections in March.

    "Two mortar shells and 10 home-made bombs targeted the homes of Christians in different neighbourhoods of Baghdad between 0600 and 0800 (0300 and 0500 GMT)," an unnamed official told AFP news agency.

    Continue reading the main story

    Jim Muir
    BBC News
    The spate of attacks came as the ancient Christian communities here were agonising over whether to stay in Iraq or try to leave.

    Since 2003, the Christian population - then estimated at somewhat less than a million - has dwindled to roughly half that size, following a number of bomb attacks on churches and abductions or killings of priests and other Christians.

    The emigration has continued, and it would be surprising if it does not accelerate further, despite calls from Church and political leaders in Baghdad for Christians to remain.

    The bombings showed that the militants are capable of carrying out co-ordinated attacks in different parts of the city against targets of their own choosing.

    Police said the predominantly Christian areas of Camp Sara, Sinaa Street and al-Ghadeer in central Baghdad were among the districts hit, according to the Associated Press.

    An interior ministry source, quoted anonymously by Reuters, said the attacks were directly linked to the siege of the cathedral.

    "These operations, which targeted Christians, came as a continuation of the attack that targeted the Salvation church," the source said.

    The BBC's Jim Muir, in Baghdad, says it is unclear whether Christians were killed. However the intention is clear - to underline a threat from the so-called Islamic State for Iraq, an umbrella group linked to al-Qaeda, that all Christians in the country are now a legitimate target.

    Iraqi Christians said they knew who was behind the violence.

    "There is no need to say who is behind this. It is obvious. We do not want to say who or from which side. The church attack before and now this - it is obvious," a man named only as Emad said, according to Reuters.

    The attacks came a day after Prime Minister Nouri Maliki visited the Syrian Catholic cathedral where 44 Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security forces personnel died after it was seized by Islamist militants and then stormed by troops.

    Continue reading the main story

    Aug 2004 - series of bombings targets five churches, killing 11 people
    October 2006 - Orthodox priest Fr Boulos Iskander snatched in Mosul by group demanding ransom. Despite payment of the ransom, Fr Iskander was found beheaded and with his limbs amputated
    June 2007 - Fr Ragheed Ganni - a priest and secretary to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahh, killed in 2008 - shot dead in his church along with three companions
    January 2008 - Bombs go off outside three Chaldean and Assyrian churches in Mosul, two churches in Kirkuk and four in Baghdad
    February 2008 - Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahh kidnapped; body found in shallow grave two weeks later
    April 2008 - Fr Adel Youssef, an Assyrian Orthodox priest, shot dead by unknown assailants
    February 2010 - At least eight Christians die in a two-week spate of attacks in northern city of Mosul
    The Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for the cathedral attack, saying it wanted to force the release of converts to Islam allegedly being detained by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

    A total of 34 Iraqi Christians and a Muslim guard wounded in the 31 October cathedral attack were flown to France for treatment, where the country's immigration minister said asylum would be granted to those who sought it.

    Over the weekend, a senior Iraqi cleric in London called on Iraqi Christians to flee the country because it was so dangerous.

    "If we stay, they will kill us," Archbishop Athanasios Dawood said after addressing a congregation of Iraqi Orthodox Christians at a service in the UK capital.

    However, in Iraq itself, church and political leaders have urged the Christian communities to stay in the country where they have been based for more than 2,000 years.

    Catholic representatives in the city said the community was now frightened and confused.

    "People are panicked. They come to see us in the churches to ask what they should do. We are shattered by what has happened," said Saad Sirap Hanna, a priest at Baghdad's Saint Joseph church, according to AFP.

    Christians - many from ancient denominations - have been leaving Iraq in droves since the US-led invasion in 2003, and about 600,000 remain.


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