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Bombs kill six Baghdad Christians, sow panic

ICC Note:

Bombings in Baghdad this week continued to target Christians, killing six just 10 days after Al Qaeda-linked militants stormed into a Baghdad church and killed more than 40 Catholic worshippers and two priests.

By Marwa Sabah

11/10/2010 Iraq (AFP) – A string of anti-Christian bombings has cost six more lives in the wake of a Baghdad church bloodbath, sowing panic in Iraq’s 2,000-year-old minority on Wednesday, many of whom now want to flee.

“Since Tuesday evening, there have been 13 bombs and two mortar attacks on homes and shops of Christians in which a total of six people were killed and 33 injured,” a defence ministry official said. “A church was also damaged.”

The attacks come less than two weeks after 44 Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security personnel died in the seizure of the Baghdad church by Islamist gunmen and the ensuing shootout when it was stormed by troops.

On November 3, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the hostage-taking at the capital’s Syrian Catholic cathedral and warned it would step up attacks on Christians.

As Christians converged on their churches on Wednesday to seek counsel from their religious leaders, the capital’s Syrian Catholic archbishop made an emotional appeal for Western countries to come to their rescue.

“It would be criminal on the part of the international community not to take care of the security of the Christians,” Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka said inside the church targeted on October 31 where he tried to console his flock.

“Everybody is scared,” he said. “People are asking who is going to protect them, how are they going to stay on in Iraq. We are trying to encourage them to stay patient.”

The UN Security Council said Wednesday it was “appalled” by the militant attacks on Christians and Muslims in Iraq.

There is “a deliberate will to destroy the Christian community” which is “on the frontline of the fight for democracy,” said France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud.

“For the past two years now, my wife has been trying to persuade me to leave the country but I didn’t agree,” said 42-year-old labourer Raed Wissam from the Dora district of south Baghdad.

“Today, I feel sure she’s right because I don’t want to feel guilty if something bad happens to one of my children.”

Wissam said he was woken up at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) by an explosion. “I ran up to the roof to see what was going on and I heard three more blasts, with three Christian homes targeted. My two children wept.”

A senior Iraqi clergyman based in London said at the weekend that Christians should quit Iraq or face being killed at the hands of Al-Qaeda.

But Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday cautioned other countries not to encourage Christians to abandon their homeland, after France took in dozens of people wounded in the cathedral attack.

“The countries that have welcomed the victims … of this attack (on the church) have done a noble thing, but that should not encourage emigration,” the premier said.

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

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