01/10/2005, 00.00
IRAQ
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Terrorism strikes all Iraqis, says Patriarch

The death tool now stands at 100 per week. Baghdad's deputy chief killed this morning.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Iraqi Christians like their Muslim countrymen are targeted because they are Iraqi, not because of their religion, this according to Mgr  Emmanuel Delly, Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, who spoke to AsiaNews after two Chaldean monks from the Iraqi capital's St Anthony monastery were abducted and held for a day.

The two "were well treated and released after 24 hours", the Patriarch said. "They are now back in their convent."

No information is available as who the kidnappers were.

The two monks "were abducted because they were Iraqi," Patriarch Delly stressed, "like their fellow Muslims who, too, are taken".

Speaking about the country's situation, he said "it was not positive", but hoped "it would get better".

With 20 days to go before the scheduled elections, Patriarch Delly said "we shall do our best for the country and its people. Therefore, we urge all Christians to be faithful to their religion, Church and nation. We urge them to do what is good for the country."

The Patriarch insisted that the common good comes  from all sectors of Iraqi society "working together" for the country's "economic, cultural and spiritual progress".

In the meantime, the agency organising absentee balloting for Iraqis abroad has set the date for voter registration. The almost 3,000,000 eligible voters can register between January 17 and 23 in 900 centres located in 150 cities in the 14 countries where the vote will be allowed.

At the same time, violence continues unabated. Two attacks occurred in Baghdad this morning. In the first incident, Baghdad's deputy police chief Brigadier Amer Ali Nayef was assassinated in Baghdad's south Dora district. In the second, a suicide bomber drove a car full explosive against a police station killing three police officers.

In the last week alone, more than one hundred Iraqis have been killed in attacks or targeted killings.

Mgr  Yacoub Denha Scher, Bishop of  Arbil, was laid to rest a few days ago. He died of natural causes. (LF)

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