Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – “We are concerned by yesterday’s attacks but we continue to have hope and we will continue in our commitment to inter-religious dialogue”. Msgr. Louis Sako, Archbishop of Kirkuk declared to AsiaNews in the aftermath of yesterday’s two car bomb attacks (not three as it had first been reported) which targeted the Chaldean cathedral of the Sacred Heart and the Syro-Orthodox church of Mar-Ephrem. The explosions - described by the prelate as a “political message to Christians”- caused material damage and left “one or two people slightly injured”.
“We do not know who are behind the attacks – the prelate explains – but one thing is certain: these actions aim to send a clear message to Iraq’s Christians”. “They are co-ordinated – continues Msgr. Sako – they target Christian places of worship, they do not want to provoke deaths, but at the same time they do not leave us in peace”. On January 6th, 7 Christian targets in Mosul and Baghdad were attacked using exactly the same formula, (co-ordinated car bombs planned so as not to cause massacres). The Iraqi government had condemned the acts of terrorism and guaranteed protection for Christians.
Words and gestures of solidarity were immediately expressed towards the Christian community of Kirkuk, by political and religious figures of note. “The ordinary people were the first to show their solidarity – the archbishop says –local leaders followed, political parties, Sunni and Shiite religious”. The ecclesial authorities also telephoned Msgr. Sako: the Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Dally; the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV from the United States; as well as “bishops and friends from across the world”. Msgr. Sako is not discouraged and guarantees: “One thing remains absolute and unshakable for our community here in Kirkuk, we will persevere with dialogue to build and strengthen peaceful coexistence”. And from the faithful gathered around their bishop an appeal: “The witness of Iraq’s faithful is strong in a time of great difficulty, keep praying for us”. (MA)