03/13/2008, 00.00
IRAQ

The blood tribute of the diocese of Mosul

With the killing of Archbishop Rahho, the Sunni stronghold confirms its place as the most dangerous area for the Christian community. According to an autopsy, the bishop has been dead for five days. In 2007 alone, 47 Christians were killed in Iraq.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - The Chaldean archbishop of Mosul had been dead for at least five days before his body was found this morning by some members of the Church, following information provided by the kidnappers themselves.  This timeline is provided by the autopsy conducted on the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, found in an abandoned area outside of the city, which is in part used as a trash dump.  This information comes to AsiaNews from sources close to the deceased bishop. Archbishop Rahho had been buried, says Bishop Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.

There do not seem to be any signs of violence on the body of the prelate, who was kidnapped on February 29.  He probably died because of the lack of medicines that he had to take regularly because of his serious health problems.  But the causes of his death are still not clear.

Archbishop Rahho and the three men who were with him at the moment of the ambush join the long list of Christians killed in Iraq.  Mosul confirms its place as the most dangerous city for the Christian community, the presence of which has dropped by two thirds since 2003.  This diocese has paid a heavy tribute in blood.  In 2007 alone, at least 13 Christians are believed to have been killed - including Fr Ragheed Gani, slaughtered on June 3 - as well as two priests and a kidnapped bishop.  There have been many attacks on Christian targets.  The latest wave of violence came from January 6-17, 2008, when a series of explosions struck the Chaldean Church of Mary Immaculate, the Chaldean Church of St Paul, which was almost destroyed, the entryway to the orphanage run by the Chaldean sisters in al Nour, a Nestorian church, and the convent of the Dominican sisters of Mosul Jadida.

According to a list drawn up by AsiaNews, a total of 47 people died of violent causes in Iraq last year, at least 13 of them in Mosul alone.

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