11/10/2010, 00.00
IRAQ

Three Christians killed and 26 wounded. Appeal of Al Maliki

Layla Yousif Rahema
A series of attacks this morning with mortars and homemade bombs. The prime minister pays a visit to the Syrian Catholic Church attacked by al-Qaeda and calls on Christians not to leave the country. Meanwhile the first survivors arrive in France, for receive special treatment.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Three dead and 26 injuries is the provisional death toll from a series of attacks against Christian homes this morning in different districts of Baghdad. Between 6 and 8 this morning, two mortar shells and dozens of homemade bombs exploded in front of the homes of the faithful.

Last night in the capital three other Christian houses were hit by bombs, without causing any victims. Despite this, the Prime Minister al Maliki is urging Christians not to abandon the country.

The latest attacks come only 10 days after the October 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation, and after threats from Al Qaeda to eliminate Christians from the Middle East. The attack on the parish killed 44 faithful, two priests and seven security guards. About 90 people were injured. Of these, the first group (37, to be followed by those remaining) arrived in France on Nov. 8 to receive treatment offered by the European nation, the only one to propose such support.

Yesterday, Prime Minister al-Maliki visited the church of Our Lady of Salvation and urged his fellow Christians not to leave the country. Praising the "noble" gesture of France, al-Maliki said that "it must not be an incentive to emigrate." He recalled that in his meeting with Benedict XVI, in 2008, had asked the Pope "not to allow the East be emptied of Christians, nor the West of Muslims".

"We ask - he said – for an end to the emigration of Christians, that the phenomenon does not return, and we will do everything possible so that the array of flowers of Iraq's communities remain complete and united".

Al-Maliki also offered his condolences to the families of the victims: "The equality of Christians and other Iraqis - he said - is a sacred duty."

Eric Besson, the French Minister of Immigration has made it clear that Christians survivors of the attack in Baghdad will benefit political asylum. "This message of support – he added - does not mean that France and Europe, are inviting the Christians of the East and Iraq to leave their countries. Rather it is our responsibility and desire to help them live in security in their countries of origin. "

On 8 November two other believers were killed in front of their homes in the Iraqi capital.

Before the U.S. invasion in 2003, the Christian community in Iraq counted almost a million faithful, that number has now dropped below 500 thousand.

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