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    » 07/13/2009, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Car bomb against Mosul church as Mgr Warduni calls attacks in Baghdad premeditated



    In northern Iraq Our Lady of Fatima Church is hit; nearby Shia mosque is also damaged. Local sources warn of new attacks “against churches and monasteries”. A new Christian exodus is feared. For auxiliary bishop of Baghdad attacks were “organised”; he appeals for peace.
    Baghdad (AsiaNews) – A car bomb exploded this morning near Our lady of Fatima Church in Mosul. So far no casualties have been reported but the building was seriously damaged. The incident is the latest in a wave of violence against Christian places of worship. Yesterday seven Chaldean and Orthodox Churches were hit in Baghdad.

    The Chaldean Church of St Mary, in Sharaa Philistine, was the worst hit. It is where the patriarchal vicar of Baghdad, Mgr Sleimon Wardouni, officiates.

    “The situation is serious. The attacks against churches were carried out in concert; a sign they were not random but premeditated and organised,” Mgr Warduni told AsiaNews.

    For the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad the Church of St Mary was “heavily damaged” but “I am more concerned about the two young people who were killed in the blast. Damages can be repaired but the lives of the two young people who were coming out after Mass where they had prayed for peace . . . that is the saddest thing.”

    “An atmosphere of mistrust and negativity prevails among Christians,” the bishop said. “What harm or misdeed have we done to deserve these attacks? Perhaps our fault is to want peace, to love everyone,” he added. “Let us pray that the world shakes off its apathy and firmly demands peace.”

    This morning a car bomb also exploded in Mosul’s Faisalia neighbourhood. It hit Our Lady of Fatima Church as well as a nearby Shia mosque. For now the bomb’s target remains unclear.

    However, a local source told AsiaNews that churches and monasteries have received threats and that police have warned about “new attacks.”

    According to the source the new wave of violence could be connected to “the upcoming provincial elections in Iraqi Kurdistan” and be a warning “to the local Christian community about the vote.”

    In Karakosh authorities have imposed a curfew, closing access point to and fro the town. In turn this might trigger another “Christian exodus from the city” after a period of relative calm that had convinced many families to return home.

    For a source in Baghdad, who spoke to AsiaNews anonymously for security reasons, there is no connection between the attacks against churches, which have the hallmark of al-Qaeda, and the murder of a woman in Germany dubbed the “veil martyr”.

    “There are many [unanswered] questions. I cannot exclude police complicity in the attacks against the churches,” the source said, since “Christian buildings are guarded by police and it is highly unlikely that anyone can get in them and place a bomb without anyone seeing him.”

    In Baghdad there is talk about a “possible connection” between anti-Christian attacks and provincial elections in oil rich Kirkuk, an area that has become a major bone of contention between Arabs and Kurds.

    “When elections are on the horizon Christians always become targets for attacks,” said the source.

    This morning another car bomb exploded near the US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill as he travelled in a motorcade. The US diplomat was not injured and early reports indicate that no one was hurt.

    According to the AsiaNews source, US presence in Iraq and support from the Christian world might provide another “possible explanation” for the attacks.

    “Some fringe elements in the country view this close relationship as a betrayal of Iraq’s sovereignty or as taking a political position.” (DS)

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    See also

    09/10/2008 IRAQ
    Islamic fundamentalists: "expel Christians from Mosul"
    Yesterday, a 38-year-old Chaldean was shot to death, but there could be a total of three victims. Men are driving around the city shouting slogans against the Christians, threatening more slaughter and violence. From the U.S. command, confirmation that Mosul has become the last stronghold of the al Qaeda militants.

    08/06/2007 IRAQ
    Kidnapped Chaldean Priest : No to the Niniveh plain ethnic project
    Opposition to the “Assyrian” ghetto to save Iraq’s persecuted Christians today finds a qualified representative: Fr. Saad Hanna Sirop, one of the first Chaldean priests to have been kidnapped in Baghdad, and for whose release Benedict XVI intervened. A victim of Iraq’s violent anti Christian persecution, he too views the idea of an ethnic-religious enclave as diametrically opposed to Iraq’s history and the purpose of evangelization. Moreover, Fr. Saad maintains that the project’s real aim is not protection of the Chaldean and Assyrian Christians, but to protect ambitious “personal and economic interests”.

    16/03/2009 IRAQ
    Iraq looks to future with "optimism." Economic crisis feared more than security
    Violence and lack of security are not the main cause of concern. 85% of Iraqis call the current situation "very good or quite good." Sources for AsiaNews confirm the reopening of shops and businesses. The country must promote economic alternatives to oil, like tourism and agriculture.

    04/01/2011 IRAQ
    Muslim solidarity towards Iraqi Christians
    A delegation of Arab tribal chiefs visit the archdiocese of Kirkuk following the attacks against Baghdad cathedral and Egyptian Copts in Alexandria to voice their concern and express their closeness to their Christian “brothers”. A Christian woman who survived the slaughter in Baghdad’s Syriac-Catholic cathedral on 31 October is murdered.

    31/01/2009 IRAQ
    Heavy security measures during voting for provincial councils
    It is the first election at which the Sunnis are participating. Today, there was mortar fire in Tikrit, the home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein. Some of the candidates were killed yesterday and in recent days.



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