Iraqi Christians targeted in another slew of attacks
Iraqi Christians were the target of another series of bombings in Baghdad Wednesday morning. The mounting death and injury tolls are prompting more Christians to consider leaving Iraq.
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A series of bombings across Baghdad Wednesday morning targeted Christian homes, killing at least three and wounding 26.
The attacks came just 10 days after Islamist militants stormed a church during Sunday mass, eventually killing more than 50 people, mostly Christian worshipers. It was the worst attack on Iraqi Christians in recent history, and it has increased fear that more of Iraq’s already dwindling Christian community will leave Iraq and seek safer homes abroad.
In Wednesday’s attacks, militants used two mortar shells and 10 homemade bombs to target Christian homes throughout Baghdad, reports Agence France-Presse. It followed on the heels of the firebombing of three Christian homes in the Mansur neighborhood Tuesday, in which no one was killed.
The Associated Press reports that four people were killed, and 19 were wounded, while other news agencies reported that at least three were killed. The AP reports that it was not known whether the dead were Christians.
An Interior Ministry official told Reuters that the bombings were a “continuation” of the Oct. 31 attack on the cathedral. And the Guardian reports that one of the homes bombed Wednesday belonged to the family of one of the victims of the Oct. 31 attack. The attackers identified the home by the funeral signs hanging outside, according to the newspaper. Wednesday’s bombings took place in the Christian neighborhood of Dora, in Kampsara, and in Baladiyat.
The recent violence against Christians in Baghdad has increased fear that the minority group will all but disappear from Iraq, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Already the community has been drastically reduced as many Christians fled during the sectarian violence unleashed after the US invasion in 2003, with half the population estimated to have left in recent years.
CNN reports that 35 Iraqis, mostly Christians, who were wounded in the Oct. 31 attack arrived in France yesterday, where they have been given temporary asylum. And a top Iraqi church leader in London Sunday told the BBC that Christians should leave Iraq.
But Iraq’s prime minister Tuesday asked foreign countries not to encourage Christians to leave Iraq. "The countries that have welcomed the victims ... of this attack [on the church] have done a noble thing, but that should not encourage emigration," he said according to AFP.
The Monitor’s report notes that the government’s failure to protect Christians has made it difficult for church leaders in Iraq to urge their followers to stay. It has also led Christians to question their place in their country.
"We tell them they should remain here but we can’t make them, because they have a very, very strong reaction from the massacre that took place,” says Syrian Catholic Bishop Mati Shaba Matoka, one of a delegation of church leaders who met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last week. […]
“We as men of religion have limits,” he says. “I want officials to take it upon themselves to provide a reasonable level of security so when we tell people it is their duty to stay and be patient, they accept it.”
The Monitor also reports that the Oct. 31 caused many Baghdad Christians to leave for the safer Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, where in one Christian area property prices increased the day after the attack.