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Christians condemn Iraq bombings

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  • Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock
    Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs BBC News, UK - 15 hours ago These were the first major attacks on Christian churches Christian and Muslim leaders have
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2004
      Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs
      BBC News, UK - 15 hours ago

      These were the first major attacks on Christian churches
      Christian and Muslim leaders have condemned Sunday's wave of bomb
      attacks at churches that killed 11 people.
      Pope John Paul II said he deplored the "unjust aggressions" and
      declared solidarity with Iraqi Catholics.

      Iraq's top Shia Muslim leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said
      the explosions "targeted Iraq's unity, stability and independence".

      Reports said a previously unknown group had claimed responsibility
      for the attacks in an Islamic website message.

      Car bombs exploded outside four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul,
      during Sunday evening services.

      The Committee of Planning and Follow-up in Iraq said in an online
      statement that its members exploded the cars in front of the churches
      and warned of further attacks.

      The claim could not be verified.

      We stress the need to respect the rights of Christians in Iraq and
      those of other religious faiths and their right to live in their
      home, Iraq, peacefully

      [side bar quote - Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani
      The first blast happened outside an Armenian church in Baghdad. Three
      other churches in the city were hit within minutes, including a
      Syrian Catholic church.]

      The Baghdad explosions killed 10 people and injured dozens.

      A fifth church was attacked in the northern city of Mosul, 350km (220
      miles) north of Baghdad. Police said one person died and 11 people
      were injured.

      Iraqi police found a sixth bomb outside a Baghdad church and managed
      to disarm it, the US military said in a statement.

      On Monday, the Pope sent a message of condolence to Catholic
      patriarch of Iraq, Emmanuel III Delly.

      The Pope "firmly deplored the unjust aggressions against those whose
      only aim is to collaborate for peace and reconciliation in the
      country", the Vatican said.

      A statement from Ayatollah Sistani's office said the attacks
      were "terrible crimes" and urged the government and the people to
      work together to end the attacks against Iraqis.

      "We stress the need to respect the rights of Christians in Iraq and
      those of other religious faiths and their right to live in their
      home, Iraq, peacefully," the statement said.

      The Russian Orthodox Church said the attacks were an attempt to spark
      a religious conflict.

      Christian fears

      The BBC's Peter Greste in Baghdad says that until now there have been
      no significant attacks on Iraq's Christian minority.

      An Iraqi interior ministry spokesman described Christians as one of
      Iraq's most respected groups.

      But he also said the attackers may have been trying to antagonise the
      multinational forces in Iraq, who are from mostly Christian
      countries.

      Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, has blamed the
      attacks on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an Islamic militant suspected of
      links with al-Qaeda.

      "Zarqawi and his extremists are basically trying to drive a wedge
      between Muslims and Christians in Iraq. It's clear they want to drive
      Christians out of the country," Mr Rubaie told Reuters news agency.

      The Jordanian-born militant is blamed for a string of suicide
      bombings in Iraq. His group has also claimed responsibility for the
      beheadings of an American and a South Korean hostage.

      Also on Sunday, a roadside bomb near the town of Samarra killed two
      American soldiers and injured a third, the US military said.

      IRAQ'S CHRISTIANS
      Used to number 1 million
      Now estimated at 650,000 - about 3% of population
      Main communities: Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian
      Other rites include: Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic,
      Anglican
      Mainly live in Kirkuk, Irbil, Mosul, Baghdad


      In pictures: Church blasts
      However, many Christians had become increasingly concerned about the
      possibility of violence, following attacks on Christian-owned shops
      selling alcohol.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3527032.stm
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