11/12/2008, 00.00
IRAQ

New anti-Christian attack in Mosul, two sisters killed

Eyewitnesses say the gang that carried out the attack was made up of men ranging in age from 16 to 18. Attackers killed the young women in cold blood then placed a bomb at the entrance of their house, killing two policemen when it went off. Sources tell AsiaNews that the violence is tied to an ongoing “power struggle” ahead of upcoming provincial council elections.
Mosul (AsiaNews) – Mosul Christians have been attacked again today. A group of armed men stormed a house in the Alqahira neighbourhood where they killed two sisters in what amounts to targeting killing. After entering the building the gunmen shot the two young women in cold blood and wounded their mother with a knife. At present she is in hospital but her conditions are not serious. The husband and the son were able to escape at the start of the attack.

The victims are Lamia Sobhy Salloha and Walàa Sobhy Salloha, both from the Syro-Catholic Church of Mosul. The two young women were employed by the Office of the Treasurer of the Municipality of Wala.

According to eyewitnesses the attack was carried out by a gang of 16-to18-year olds who after attacking the residents of the house placed a bomb at the entrance and detonated it when a group of police agents came to the scene, killing two and wounding others.

A source told AsiaNews that “youth gangs from poor families” were involved in the incident but that behind them there is “a criminal organisation” that is doing everything to drive Christians out of the city.

“It is over power and the next election to provincial councils and minority representation, which might be decisive for the balance between Arabs and Kurds,” said the source.

Urged by the United Nations, the government had promised to put art. 50 back into a draft law to guarantee minorities 15 seats out of 440 (13 for Christians). But on 3 November parliament passed the bill without doing so, which later received the necessary sanction by the Presidency Council to become law with only one seat set aside for Mosul Christians. The parliament’s decision has embittered the leaders of the Iraqi Church who slammed the blatant violation of the constitution which should ensure equal rights for all citizens.

“We don’t trust anyone. Both Arabs and Kurds promised to help us but so far we have not seen anything concrete,’ the source told AsiaNews. Today’s attack was “another warning by those who want to force Christians into the Niniwa Plains.”

In recent days more than 700 families had decided to come back to Mosul after local authorities promised to provide them with greater protection. This targeted killing “will push Christians to flee again” and threats of new attacks and violence will continue to hang over the few who remain.

“It is all a political game but it is Christians who are the losers,” said the source.

Today’s attack is but the last in a series of acts of violence against Mosul’s Christian community which has been targeted by Islamic fundamentalists and armed gangs alike.

Since the start of October, 16 people have died and 2,000 families (about 12,000 people) have left the city.

Matters had begun to get better in recent days, hence the decision of 700 families to come back; however, today’s attack will cast an even greater shadow on the fate of Iraq’s Christian community. (DS)

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