02/16/2010, 00.00
IRAQ
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Mosul, anti-Christian violence: two murders and a kidnapping in 24 hours

The Christian community is once again under attack from armed gangs, while the government does nothing to stop the attacks. In two raids two traders killed, a third man injured. “A large sum of money” demanded for the kidnapped Christians. Christian leader in Erbil: political ties between the expulsion of Christians from Iraq and the recent carnage in Baghdad.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - In just over 24 hours two Christian businessmen have been killed, one wounded and a fourth kidnapped, for whose release the kidnappers have asked for a "large sum of money." The streak of blood and violence against the Christian community in Mosul in northern Iraq shows no sign of abating as it comes under attack from armed gangs and abandoned by local authorities once again, as a local source told AsiaNews, "they do nothing to defend us."

Yesterday a Christian fruit vendor was killed in the district 17 Tammouz. The man, Najim Abdullah Fatoukhi of 42 years, was shot to death in front of his shop. The attackers fired from a car, and got away undisturbed.  

The previous day, Sunday, February 14, Rayan Bashir Salem was killed. An armed commando entered the man's house in the neighbourhood of Al Mishraq, and shot him at point blank range. In the ambush his brother, Thair was wounded. The victim, also a merchant, owned a frozen goods store.  

Finally, on 13 February, a gang kidnapped Sabah al Dahhan. Local sources said the kidnappers have demanded "a high amount of money" for his release.

Sources for AsiaNews in Mosul, asking for anonymity for security reasons, said the "persecution continues in complete indifference" and added that "Christians are living in a state of panic and are trying to leave the city.  

Christians are convinced that "these are not normal criminals" behind the attacks and that there are "specific political plans": the creation of a Christian enclave in the plain of Nineveh and the government "does nothing to counter it."  

A high-profile Christian political figure in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, explains that "even the attacks in Baghdad" in the recent past - which caused hundreds of dead or injured - are related to "project for an area to pen up the Christian community" .

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