10/16/2004, 00.00
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Five churches bombed in Baghdad, no casualties reported

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A string of bombs exploded at five churches across Baghdad early Saturday though no casualties have been reported, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

The explosions rang out in quick succession over an hour and half starting at 4:00 am (0100GMT) at St. Joseph Church in the Nafaq Al-Shurta area, said ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman.

The other churches hit were St. Jacob's Church and St. George's Church in the Doura neighborhood, the Church of Rome in the Karrada neighborhood and St. Thomas Church in the Mansour area. Abdul-Rahman said the churches all had some exterior damage, with windows blown out.

In August, coordinated attacks hit four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens more in the first significant strike against Iraq's minority Christians since the U.S. occupation began last year.

Iraq's community of 750,000 Christians has grown increasingly anxious at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism since the ouster of Saddam Hussein last year. Christian dignitaries say the increase of fundamentalism is due to the presence of Islamic groups from neighboring countries. Hundreds of Christians have fled to neighboring Jordan and Syria, waiting for the situation to calm down.

Senior Muslim leaders in Iraq have condemned the violence, trying to quell Christian fears they were being routed from the country.

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