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12 January 2011

Two killed and eight injured in bomb attacks on Baghdad Christians

Two people were killed yesterday and at least eight injured in a series of bomb attacks on Christian homes in Baghdad.

The grenade and bomb attacks came a week after Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida threatened a wave of violence against Iraq's beleaguered Christian community.

In an attack in the south-west of the city, two grenades were thrown into the home of a Christian family, killing two people and injuring five, Iraqi police said.

In eastern Baghdad, two people were injured when a grenade was thrown into another Christian home.

In western Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a Christian house, injuring one member of the family and a passing motorist.

The deaths were confirmed by Iraq's military spokesman, Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, who added: "The aim of these attacks is to prevent Christians from celebrating the new year's holiday."

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to northern Iraq since October when at least 68 people were killed when militants stormed a Baghdad church and took the congregation of about 100 worshippers hostage.

Last week, al-Qaida warned there would be further violence against the Christian community, leading many Christians to tone down their Christmas celebrations and cancel events such as evening mass and appearances by Santa Claus.

Christian leaders estimate that there are between 400,000 and 600,000 Christians still living in Iraq. Before the war, some estimated the number was 1.4 million.

Father Mukhlis, a priest at Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad, where the hostage incident in October occurred, called yesterday's attacks "direct oppression" against Iraqi Christians.

The Christmas holidays coincide this year with Muslim month of Muharram, which is particularly important as a period of mourning for Shias.

Some Christians said they were playing down the Christmas holiday this year out of respect for their Shia neighbours.

However, others reported intimidation by members of the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia backed by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who pressured them not to celebrate publicly.


18:54 Posted in IRAQ | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

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