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Oct 31st, 2010


Nov. 2 update . . . . . . 58 dead, nearly 80 wounded

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At Least 7 Hostages Killed in Rescue from Iraq Church

Gunmen storm Catholic church, demand release of al-Qaida prisoners

Image: Iraqi Chaladean Catholic Christians celebrate
Iraqi Chaladean Catholic Christians celebrate Easter mass at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in central Baghdad’s Al-Karrada neighborhood on March 23, 2008. The same church was the site of a four-hour seige on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP – Getty Images file)

By Waleed Ibrahim and Muhanad Mohammed

October 31, 2010

BAGHDAD — At least seven Iraqi Catholics died on Sunday when police stormed a Baghdad church where gunmen were holding dozens of parishioners hostage, threatening to kill them if al Qaida-prisoners were not released.

The U.S. military said between seven and 10 hostages and seven members of the Iraqi security forces, as well as five to seven attackers, were killed in the rescue operation.

Witnesses reported seeing many bodies inside the church after the gunmen wearing suicide vests threw grenades or blew themselves up as Iraqi forces stormed the building.

The insurgents laid siege to one of Baghdad’s biggest churches as more than 100 parishioners attended Sunday mass in a central district near the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to embassies and the Iraqi government.

U.S. military officials watched the rescue operation from cameras in hovering helicopters. …

Al-Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack on “the dirty place of the infidel which Iraqi Christians have long used as a base to fight Islam.”

It said in a statement posted on radical Islamic websites that it was an action against the Christian church in Egypt. …

A federal police source said the attackers demanded the release of al-Qaida prisoners, including the widow of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq, who was killed in April. …

Our Lady of Salvation, one of Baghdad’s largest churches, was one of five churches in Baghdad and Mosul hit in coordinated attacks in August 2004 in which 12 people were killed.

Christians number about a 1.5 million out of a total Iraqi population of about 23 million, the vast majority of them Muslims. …

Full story

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11/2/10 Update

Iraq Official: 52 Dead After Catholic Church Siege

Image: Residents react outside Our Lady of Salvation church
Fifty-two hostages and police were killed on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010 when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics. (Mohammed Ameen / Reuters)

The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
November 1, 2010

BAGHDAD — Fifty-two hostages and police were killed on Sunday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al-Qaida-linked gunmen, a deputy interior minister said.

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said on Monday that 67 people were wounded during the raid of the church in central Baghdad by gunmen demanding the release of al-Qaida prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

The toll only included hostages and police, not attackers.

The standoff began at dusk Sunday when militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the nearby Iraqi stock exchange and then entered the nearby Our Lady of Deliverance church — one of Baghdad’s main Catholic places of worship — taking about 120 Christians hostage. …

‘Exterminate Iraqi Christians’

Officials said at least one priest and nine policemen were among the dead. Many of the wounded were women. …

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would “exterminate Iraqi Christians” if Muslim women are not freed within 48 hours from churches in Egypt.

Iraqi Christians, who have been frequent targets for Sunni insurgents, have left in droves since the 2003 U.S.-led war.

Full story

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Related reports on this site:

Christian Cleansing in Iraq (July 12, 2009)

Image: Iraqi security forces stand guard outside one of several Christian churches that were bombed in Baghdad
Iraqi security forces stand guard outside one of several Christian churches that were bombed in Baghdad on Sunday, July 12, 2009. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)

In Iraq, an Exodus of Christians (May 16, 2009; scroll down)


In this photo taken May 13, 2009, Christian believers pray outside a church in south Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood. Iraq has lost more than half the Christians that once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled the chaos have plans to ever return. (Photo credit: Loay Hameed / AP)

Christians on the Run in Iraq (Nov. 26, 2008)


People carry the coffin of Imad Elia, 45, an Arab Christian, in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009. Elia’s death is the latest in ongoing violence that has forced thousands of Christians to leave Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. (Photo credit: Yahya Ahmed / AP)

Christians Flee Iraqi City (Oct. 12, 2008)

Image: Christians flee Mosul
Cars and trucks loaded with suitcases, mattresses and passengers cradling baskets stuffed with clothes line up at checkpoints to flee Mosul on Monday, Oct. 13, 2008, a day after the 10th killing of an Iraqi Christian in the northern city so far that month. (Photo credit: Emad Matti / AP)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — October 31, 2009

Anger in America

One year ago today, I reported that Microsoft Network (MSN.com), promoting its new Bing! search engine, featured a demo search of “angry Americans.” It caught my attention, because history has shown that times of economic uncertainty — as we’re currently experiencing while bogged down in two wars in the aftermath of 9/11 — can be a fertile breeding ground for extremist ideologies, as we saw in Germany during the Great Depression following a humiliating defeat in World War I.


Hate groups including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan have grown since Barack Obama was elected president. (Image: NBC News)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — October 31, 2008

Write-in Campaign: Day 13

Write-in ballot ad (Image by Rifleman-Al)

Two years ago today, on the 13th day of my write-in campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I reported that I had launched a ground assault, with campaign ads running in 25 newspapers with a combined circulation of approximately 150,000.

Immelman Launches Write-in Campaign Against Bachmann

MINNEAPOLIS (Fox 9, Oct. 20, 2008; Ellen Galles reporting) — Tonight, another Republican is launching a write-in campaign. He says he’s not in it to win; he’s in it to make a point.

The fact that Aubrey Immelman has pulled out his box of old campaign material is just one more sign of how significantly the 6th District congressional race changed over the weekend.

Immelman: “I want this to be a referendum within the Republican Party on the kind of leadership — or, more pertinently, the lack of leadership — that Rep. Michele Bachmann has shown.”

Immelman lost to Bachmann in the primary but filed to run as a write-in after hearing her on MSNBC Friday night.

Bachmann (to Chris Matthews): “I’m very concerned that he [Obama] may have anti-American views; that’s what the American people are concerned about.”

In that interview, Bachmann told host Chris Matthews she’s concerned Barack Obama has anti-American views and that the media should look into other members of Congress and whether or not they’re anti-American.

Immelman: “We have to understand that we’re all American; we might have differences of opinion, but no one has any business questioning the patriotism of any member of Congress, no matter what their party-political affiliation.”

Immelman is not the only one who was offended. Bachmann’s comments have gotten national attention and have given the DFL [Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party] a sudden, unexpected boost in the 6th District.

But Bachmann says she’s being misquoted and misunderstood. She appeared on the Fox 9 Morning News today to set the record straight.

Bachmann: “This has been completely misconstrued to say that I believe members of Congress are anti-American. I never said that. I said the media should look into it.”

In the end, voters will have to decide how to interpret all this; not just what Bachmann said, but whether Immelman is more than just a candidate with a box of old campaign material.

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15 Responses to “Catholic Hostages Killed in Iraq”
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