01/12/2007, 00.00
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Murders, abductions and threats are everyday occurrences in the life of Mosul Christians

Violence against the Christian community is getting worse by the day. Women are murdered in the streets, men are taken from their homes, and parish priests receive threatening phone calls.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – The calvary of Mosul’s Christian community is never ending. Neither Christmas, nor the New Year has brought any respite to Iraq’s desperate Christians. Instead 2007 has brought new murders and an escalation of threats.

From this Sunni stronghold, AsiaNews has received accounts of the list of abductions, intimidation and murders that have occurred in the past two weeks. The last two incidents are just a few days old.

Last Tuesday a young woman employed as a secretary in a Mosul clinic was murdered for no apparent reason as she made her way back to her home in the small Christian town of Bartella.

The next day a man from St Paul's Parish in Mosul was murdered as he tried to resist his would-be kidnappers on the threshold of his home.

Local sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that in the last 15 days tens of Christian families, who hunkered down resisting the temptation to emigrate, have received threatening phone calls demanding money for the Sunni resistance; otherwise they would forfeit their lives.

In addition, Christians are faced with physical threats and abductions for ransom, forcing the community as a whole to raise large sums of money. The result is that many Christians have reached their economic breaking point without any certainty that they will see their loved ones again.

Churches have also become targets. Local parish priests have survived the Christmas season under constant threat.

Making matters worse, they have had to put up with dangerous roads, power outages, fuel shortage and the cold, the great equaliser. “The situation is such that no government can help us,” they said.

Before the war began in 2003, there were anywhere between 80 to 90,000 Christians in Mosul. But now no one knows. Hard data are hard to come by but diocesan sources report that at least one Christian is leaving the city for good every day.

But Mosul’s situation is not unique. Insecurity and kidnappings reign in Baghdad as well. This has forced the Chaldean Patriarchate to move Babel College and St Peter Major Seminary to Kurdistan.

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