01/29/2006, 00.00
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Bomb attacks on Churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk

Three dead and nine wounded . The Patriarch of Baghdad : "We live in fear". They are the first attacks against Christian Churches since December's elections.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – "We are afraid, but we find comfort in prayer":  the reaction of His Beatitude Emmanuel Delly, Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, speaking to AsiaNews in the aftermath of a  series of carbomb attacks in Bagdhad and Kirkuk this afternoon..

The near simultaneous bomb explosions took place between 16 and 16.30, as Sunday services ended. In Kirkuk a bomb went off at the Catholic Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  Speaking to the Patriarch, Bishop Louis Sako confirmed that a catholic youth was killed in the attack and a member of the congregation injured. There were also victims among the local population; two civilians were killed.  Minutes later a car bomb exploded in the vicinity of the Kirkuk Orthodox Church, injuring six people.

In the capital Baghdad a car bomb attack targeted the Catholic Church of St Joseph's damaging external walls, but without any casualties.  Police however confirmed that two passers-by where wounded in the blast.

Another bomb was detonated outside the Anglican Church in the Nidhal area of the city, without provoking victims.

Speaking with AsiaNews the Patriarch concluded : "Thank God that the victims are so few and that the buildings were not seriously damaged". In August 2004, a series of attacks targeting Churches in Mossul and Baghdad left dozens dead and hundreds injured, while destroying Churches of historical importance for the country.

Out of a total population of  24.2 million, Iraq's Christian community makes up about 800 thousand, composed of various rites and confessions..

Today's attacks are the first against Churches since Decembers parliamentary elections.

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