04/06/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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Baghdad under attack, 35 dead and 140 wounded. Easter for Christians of peace in Iraq

A series of explosions targeted several parts of the capital, causing the collapse of some buildings. A suicide bomber blew himself up in a downtown restaurant. In Kirkuk, government leaders and Muslim religious leaders attended the Easter vigil. The faithful pray for national reconciliation. Archbishop Sako: the risen Christ reminds us of the value of forgiveness.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The provisional death toll from coordinated attacks in Baghdad is 5 dead and 140 wounded. A series of explosions - at least six - targeted three different areas of the capital. A suicide bomber destroyed a restaurant in the centre. Meanwhile, across Iraq, Christian leaders celebrated Easter calling for "peace and reconciliation". In northern Kirkuk,   a delegation of local government official and Muslim religious leaders attended the Catholic religious services.

According to preliminary reports six coordinated attacks took place at 10 am local time, striking the Shiite majority areas of the capital. Many of the victims are civilians, buried in the collapse of two buildings in the residential district of Shula, northwest of the capital. A suicide bomber blew himself up in the downtown Alawi restaurant, near the Ministry for Culture and the Iranian Embassy. Several areas hit by the bombers are strongholds of the Mahdi Army, the militia connected to Shiite leader Moqtada al Sadr.

The attacks today in Baghdad follow the series of bombings  on April 4, some near embassies, in which 40 people died and another 200 were injured. Among the targets the embassies of Iran, Egypt, Germany, Syria and Spain. The victims are mostly civilians, since the bombers blew themselves up among people unable to reach the diplomatic offices.    

The violence did not however prevent the Iraqi Christians from celebrating Easter. In Kirkuk, a delegation of government officials and local Muslim leaders attended the Easter vigil and mass. A witness of solidarity with the Christian community, the victim in recent weeks a series of targeted attacks that have forced thousands to flee to safer areas or abroad.

Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, has told AsiaNews that the church was packed and women coloured thousands of eggs "to distribute to the faithful and government representatives. A Muslim family prepared a huge loaf of bread to be distributed to those present. About 500 children who attend catechism classes, instead, offered money saved during Lent for the poor of the city, including Muslims. "The child who brought the money to the altar – underlined Msgr. Sako - said 'prayer' defeats evil and terrorism. "

During his homily, the archbishop of Kirkuk said that "the resurrection of Christ reminds us of the values of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and life." The sacrifice and love of Jesus, the prelate added, are "the magna carta for a dignified human life." He also explained that "emigration is exile ... We must remain in our land and give witness of our Christian faith."    

"In the Christian church and mosques - said Mgr. Sako - you learn love, tolerance and cooperation, to be closer to God”.  For this reason Iraqis, abiding by the rules of law and spiritual values, should "work for reconciliation and overcome the divisions that are" signs of death: unity is the symbol of life. " With this in mind, according to the prelate, "the formation of the new parliament and new government capable of imposing order and ensure stability" is of great importance.

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