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18 May 2008

Christians fearful after bomb at Gaza school

aa99c89f04eace6d0569cc4d4cd716c1.jpgGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Assailants detonated a bomb outside a Christian school before dawn Friday, causing no injuries but further alarming the territory's tiny Christian community.

The explosion, the most recent in a series of attacks against Christians in overwhelmingly Muslim Gaza, was heard in surrounding neighborhoods about 4 a.m. Damage was visible at the entrance to the Zahwa Rosary School, which is run by Catholic nuns but serves predominantly Muslim students.

Two nuns in the convent adjacent to the school were unharmed by the explosion, a school official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying she was frightened by the incident and concerned for her safety.

Friday's bombing was not the first attack on the school run by the Rosary Sisters. The school was ransacked in June 2007, along with the nuns' adjacent convent, during a week of intense fighting that ended with Hamas militants seizing power in Gaza.

In October, a local Christian activist was killed, the most serious attack against the community so far. No one has been arrested.

Hamas police officials said they were investigating Friday's incident. But the school official said the inability of police to find perpetrators of previous attacks was cause for concern.

"We don't feel safe. There's no security here," she said.

Father Manuel Musallem, the leader of Gaza's Catholics, played down Friday's attack, calling it "the work of a dark individual."

"We have excellent relations with Muslims. They enter our houses and we enter theirs. There's no campaign of Muslims against Christians here," he said.

About 3,200 Christians live in Gaza among 1.4 million Muslims. Relations between Christians and Muslims have traditionally been good, but Christians have grown increasingly uneasy since Hamas sole control after routing the secular Fatah movement.


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