URGENT BREAKING NEWS: Iraq Christians Ask Prayers As Scores Are Killed In Bombings And Gun Battle
Tuesday, November 2, 2010 (10:57 pm)
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife with BosNewsLife Middle East Service
The attacks took place on the same day that hundreds of mourners gathered to pay last respects to the victims of Sunday's attack in a Catholic church in Baghdad.
Christians said at least 57 people were killed and nearly 70 wounded after militants attacked the Our Lady of Salvation Church and took more than 100 people hostage Sunday. An al-Qaida-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility.
Barnabas Fund, an advocacy group with close contacts with Christians in Islamic nations, told BosNewsLife that most Christians were killed on Sunday, October 31, when security forces stormed the church to free the hostages held by Islamist militants.
"The armed militants entered the Baghdad church, where around 100 people were taking part in an evening service, and immediately killed the church minister. The attackers demanded the release of Al-Qaeda prisoners and a number of Muslim women whom they falsely claimed the Church in Egypt is holding captive," Barnabas Fund said. "But negotiations failed, and the security forces stormed the building. Worshipers, security forces and attackers died in the ensuing fighting."
Middle East Concern, another group supporting the Christians in the area, said it has learned that Iraqi Christians have requested our prayers following the violence at the church.
"Christian leaders in Iraq are concerned that this attack might prompt further internal displacement of Christians within Iraq," the group told BosNewsLife in a statement. It said Iraqi Christians requested prayers that "the bereaved will know the peace, presence and comfort of Jesus" , that "the wounded and traumatized will know the healing touch of Jesus" and that "those involved in providing pastoral care will know the Spirit's grace and gentleness."
Analysts and church groups have linked the attacks against Christians in part to Islamic militants view that minority Christians follow a "Western religion" and are seen as supporting the US declared war on terror. When the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, there were an estimated 750.000 Christians in Iraq, but most have since fled their homes, according to several church groups and rights organizations.