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» 11/01/2010
IRAQ
Al Qaeda attack on Baghdad church ends in massacre
Terrorists detonate a car bomb and occupy the building. The security forces attack: initial death toll at least 55 deaths in raid against Al Qaeda cell among the faithful present at Mass in the church of Our Lady of Salvation. Seven soldiers and five terrorists killed.

Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Yet more blood shed of Iraqi Christians. At least 55 people were killed and 70 were injured in a massacre yesterday in the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad, after Iraqi forces carried out a raid to free the faithful taken hostage by al-Qaeda. But the death toll could rise again because of the serious injuries sustained by the victims, Pascal Warda, a member of the 'Syrian Catholic community told the German agency DPA. According to local sources, there are two priests among the dead, one of whom was shot by a terrorist. Among the dead were also women and eight to ten children. The security chief of Baghdad, Qassem Atta, spoke of eight militants among the dead.

The church targeted by the command is Saiydat Nayat (Our Lady of Salvation), located in the centre of Baghdad. A blitz was carried out shortly after. The “operation ended was a success,'' Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman for the Baghdad Operational Command told Reuters. The terrorists, who claimed to belong to the organization the Islamic State of Iraq, the Iraqi cell of al Qaeda, had threatened to kill the hostages if some members of the terror network of Osama bin Laden prisoners in Iraq and Egypt were not freed.

American military officials in Baghdad had previously spoken of a total death toll of 24, including at least ten hostages, seven officers and seven terrorists. The wounded were thirty, according to the source. Before the raid on the Catholic Eastern rite church, the terrorists - who wore vests packed with explosives - had detonated a car bomb killing at least six people. Among the victims is also a child, as revealed by Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary bishop to the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans. Two of the victims were agents guarding the nearby stock exchange, which according to some sources was the real target of the command. The terrorists, once inside the church called the local Baghdad TV.

A source said that the terrorist spoke with a classical Arabic and Iraqi dialect. During the security forces blitz, helicopters equipped with cameras constantly hovered over the church, along with five other Christian places of worship, already 'targeted in coordinated attacks by terrorists on August 1st of 2004. A federal police source said the terrorists demanded the release of some members of al Qaida in prison, including the widow of Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq, killed last April.

The Italian Foreign Ministry expressed ''strong condemnation'' of the terrorist assault also taking note ''of the timeliness' of the Iraqi security forces for the liberation of the hostages.''

The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, had called for ''a peaceful solution without further bloodshed”. Christians are in a '' situation of great insecurity and we express our solidarity with them'' he said. There are about 500 thousand Christians in Iraq out of a population of nearly 31 million.


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See also
11/10/2010 IRAQ
Three Christians killed and 26 wounded. Appeal of Al Maliki
by Layla Yousif Rahema
11/30/2010 IRAQ
I try to forget, but I will always see the blood stained church of Baghdad
by Giulia Mazza
11/29/2010 IRAQ
Terrorists behind attack on Baghdad church arrested
11/03/2010 IRAQ
Al Qaeda threat: Christians are legitimate targets
11/01/2010 IRAQ-EGYPT
Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Baghdad attacks, threats to the Copts

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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