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    » 08/16/2007, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Ethnic cleansing first against Yazidis, soon against Christians



    The death toll from anti-Yazidi attacks in northern Iraq is rising and might reach 500. Sources warn AsiaNews that Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain are at risk. The area is currently controlled by Wahhabi extremists since there is no presence of US or Iraqi troops. In a climate of growing insecurity 40 children in Kirkuk receive their first communion on the day of the Assumption of Our Lady.

    Mosul (AsiaNews) – The death toll from Tuesday’s bomb attacks against Yazidi villages near Mosul might reach as high as 500. Provincial authorities in Nineveh province fear that in addition to those already accounted for, another 200 people might still be buried in the rubbles left by deadly truck bombings. Sources in Iraq warn AsiaNews that the multiple attacks are part of a wider plan that is likely to target Christian villages in the Nineveh plain very soon.

    The bombings in Qataniya, Adnaniya, al-Jazeera and Tal Uzair are the deadliest since the war began in 2003. The coordinated operation involved five trucks filled with explosives that killed more than 250 people and hurt another 350, this according to official preliminary figures.

    US army sources said that it is too soon to know who was behind the blasts but the scope and apparent coordination involved point the finger at Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda.

    “This is an act of ‘ethnic cleansing’,” said Major-General Benjamin Mixon, the commander of US forces in northern Iraq.

    Iraqi political leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia, and President Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd, condemned the “heinous” attacks and ordered an investigation.

    The Kurdistan Regional Government condemned "the cowardly and barbaric attack against innocent civilians of this tolerant religious minority".

    United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also slammed the bombings in Iraq.

    Now the attention is turning to the Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain.

    Sources in Mosul that requested anonymity for security reasons told AsiaNews that the bombings against the Yazidis are “part of a broad plan elaborated by Wahhabi extremists who now control the area to eliminate all those elements that might be in their way as they pursue their goals, namely an Islamic state and the caliphate.

    “They began with Shias and Christians in Mosul,” the source said.” Now it is the turn of the Yazidis who mostly live in these villages west of the city.”

    There are fears though that “tomorrow it will happen to the Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain, where there is no US or Iraqi army presence to speak of.”

    The area is already in the hands of extremists who have infiltrated the police and the national army. “Everything has been studied and prepared with the backing of foreign countries,” the sources said.

    The villages at risk are located between Qaraqosh and al-Qosh. Some 6,110 Christian families have arrived from Baghdad and Mosul and now live in the ten or so villages. However, it is estimated that about 70 per cent of the population in the diocese have abandoned their homes with most churches now lying empty.

    As a result of the weakness of the al-Maliki government, now involved in trying to survive its latest cabinet crisis, Baghdad authorities are virtually absent from the area.

    “Even a revived UN mission will not bring peace,” the sources told AsiaNews. “Only true reconciliation between Iraqis can help the country.”

    In the mist of the growing insecurity and uncertainty the decimated Christian community continues to pray for “peace”.

    Chaldean Christians yesterday prayed in a church in Kirkuk where Archbishop Louis Sako celebrated mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady.

    On this occasion, very important for the Chaldean Church, 40 children received their first communion.

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    See also

    07/08/2015 IRAQ
    For Mar Sako, one year after the Mosul tragedy, only unity and reconciliation can save Iraq
    On the first anniversary of the great exodus from the Nineveh Plain, the Chaldean Patriarch addresses a letter to Iraq’s government and parliament. In it, he denounces the difficult conditions in which Christians and Yezidis still live, as well as the thousands of deaths among Muslims. Peace is the only response to the violence of extremist groups who "exploit religion".

    06/10/2008 IRAQ – UNITED NATIONS
    UN criticises Iraq’s new election law
    UN special envoy hopes for the return of Article 50 which guarantees seats to ethnic and religious minorities in upcoming provincial council elections. Muslim community shows its solidarity to Kirkuk’s Christian community.

    12/03/2008 IRAQ
    Security but also a political solution for Mosul
    US and Iraqi forces involved in the area stress that both security and a political solution are needed. The city is considered al-Qaeda’s last urban stronghold. Terrorism affects every area of the city, drawing support among residents tired of inhuman living conditions, playing on the city’s ethnic and religious cleavages. The situation raises concerns about the fate of Bishop Rahho who was abducted on 29 February.

    19/06/2007 IRAQ
    Nineveh Plains project to destroy dialogue, only path for peace
    Kirkuk’s Chaldean archbishop explains why he is against the plan to create a Christian “canton” on the Nineveh Plains. The area lacks the necessary infrastructure to host thousands of families and would deny Iraq its only way out, a culture of pluralism and dialogue. He appeals to local Church leaders to take a clear stance on the issue for the sake of the future of the country’s Christians.

    13/10/2008 IRAQ
    Arab media “discover” the persecution of Christians in Mosul as another Christian is killed
    Another store owner is killed. Pope’s words are echoed in Arab newspapers as the city’s archbishop, Mgr Louis Sako, slams the attacks. Some claim that Iraqi Christians are no more in danger than the average Iraqis. Others insist that all Iraqis have a duty to protect Christians.



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