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Businessman Killed as Attacks on Christians Continue

10/13/08 BAGHDAD , Iraq (CNN) — Gunmen killed a Christian businessman and wounded his nephew in a drive-by shooting in Mosul , police said Monday.

The shooting occurred Sunday night while the pair was standing near their house in the Kazraj neighborhood, Mosul police said.

It came on the same day that Iraq ‘s president and prime minister condemned recent attacks targeted at Christians in the northern Iraq city.

Thirteen Christians have been slain in the past two weeks in the city, which is located about 420 kilometers (260 miles) north of Baghdad .

At least 900 Christian families have fled in recent days, reportedly frightened by a series of killings and threats by Muslim extremists ordering them to convert to Islam or face possible death, Iraqi officials said.

In response to the attacks, Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader al-Obaidi ordered more checkpoints in Christian neighborhoods, additional security patrols and more aerial surveillance of Christian areas.

The attacks may have been prompted by Christian demonstrations ahead of provincial elections, which are to be held by January 31, 2009, authorities said.

Hundreds of Christians took to the streets in Mosul and surrounding villages and towns, demanding adequate representation on provincial councils, whose members will be chosen in the local elections.

President Jalal Talabani met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on Sunday to discuss security, and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi held a press conference with a group of local priests and bishops.

“The state, its security services and armed forces must take one stand so they can do their part in these conditions and protect our Christian brothers because they are our partners in rebuilding this nation,” al-Hashemi said.

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