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ICC Note:

A dozen militants were arrested in conjunction to the October 31st church bombing.

11/27/2010 Iraq (AFP) — Iraq has arrested 12 militants suspected of helping take Christians hostage in a church siege that killed 44 worshippers and two priests last month, an interior ministry official said on Saturday.

The arrests were the first since the October 31 attack, which drew widespread international condemnation, and included the capture of Al-Qaeda’s chief in Baghdad in raids in the capital’s east and west.

“Police have arrested 12 members of the group responsible for the attack against the church,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity and without specifying when they were detained.

The 12 militants were captured in raids carried out in the upscale west Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansur and on Palestine Street in the east of the city, the official said.

He added that authorities seized six tonnes of explosives and toxic gas in the properties raided, and said the arrests had helped prevent several attacks, including ones targeting Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone which is home to several embassies and government buildings.

Al-Qaeda said it launched the church attack to force the release of converts to Islam allegedly being detained by the Coptic Church in Egypt. Days later it declared Christians everywhere “legitimate targets.”

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

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