Iraq: Christians in Christmas bombings; 37 killed

January 8, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Iraqi Christians targeted in Christmas day bombings; 37 people killedIraq, January 02, 2013: Three bombs targeting Iraqi Christians in Baghdad on Christmas Day claimed the lives of 37 people.

Two explosive devices were detonated in a marketplace in the Christian district of al-Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21.

Shortly afterwards, a car bomb went off outside a church in Dora as worshippers were leaving a Christmas Day service, killing at least 26 people and injuring 38.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but al-Qaeda and other militant Islamists have been behind previous incidents of anti-Christian violence in Iraq.

The attacks happened despite a major security effort by the Iraqi authorities to protect churches and Christians over Christmas. Thousands of security personnel were deployed to protect Christian buildings as well as public parks, tourist sites, markets and residential areas where Christmas celebrations were being held.

Iraqi Christians targeted in Christmas day bombings; 37 people killedSearches for car bombs and other explosives were carried out, plus bag and body searches on people entering church services.

The extra security was just one of a number of positive gestures made by the Shiite-led government towards Christians over the Christmas period.

Christmas was made a national holiday in Iraq for the first time; a ten-metre Christmas tree was erected in central Baghdad; and churches in the capital were decorated and lighted.

In a show of solidarity, Iraqi Muslims took part in Christmas festivities and church services. Ammar Al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite political party, gave an address at a Christmas Eve service at a church in Baghdad.

Referring to al-Qaeda militants who continue to wreak havoc across the country, he said:

They target you like they target us. There are people in this country who believe that anyone who has a different opinion should be killed. We are partners as targets. We are partners in this challenge. And we will remain partners in confronting extremism, violence and terrorism.

His speech was met with applause by worshippers.

Ten years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq continues to be rocked by violence; car bombs, shootings and suicide attacks are an almost daily occurrence. The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people were killed in 2013.

– barnabas team

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