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Oct 12th, 2008

Attacks in Mosul Force Christians to Flee

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 this month. (Photo credit: Emad Matti / AP)

Oct. 11, 2008

BAGHDAD — An upswing in insurgent attacks against Christians in Mosul has forced 500 families to flee in the last week and seek shelter at churches, monasteries and relatives’ homes, the governor of northern Iraq’s Ninevah province said Saturday.

Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula estimated some 3,000 people have fled the city in what he called a “major displacement.”

So far this month, police in Mosul have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians killed in separate attacks, the latest a day laborer found on Wednesday. …

Bashir Azoz, a 45-year-old carpenter, said he fled his home Saturday after gunmen warned a neighbor the day before to leave or face death.

“Where is the government and its security forces as these crimes take place every day?” said Azoz, who is now staying with his wife and three children in a monastery in the Christian-majority town of Qarqoush.

The Christian community has been estimated at about 800,000 people, or 3 percent of Iraq’s population of 26 million. …

Islamic extremists have frequently targeted Christians since the 2003 U.S. invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee the country. …

Earlier this week, Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako said he was worried by a “campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian citizens in Mosul.”


10/14/08 Update

Reuters video: Iraqi Christians flee Mosul (01:30)

AP: Christians flee Iraqi city of Mosul after killings

CNN: Christians flee Iraqi city after killings, threats 

Story highlights

  • Muslim extremists order Mosul Christians to convert or face death, officials say
  • Officials: 13 Christians killed; more than 900 families have fled Mosul
  • Deputy governor: Election-related protests may have triggered the killings
  • Leaflets in Christian neighborhoods threatened families, official says


Bombers Strike in Mosul, Baghdad, Killing 13

A shoe of one of the victims, is seen, on the grou...
A shoe of one of the victims is seen on the ground as Iraqi forces stand guard the area after a car bomb explosion in the predominantly Shiite Bayaa district, southwestern Baghdad, Iraq, on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)

Oct. 12, 2008

BAGHDAD — Suicide car bombers struck twice Sunday in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least six people and wounding dozens of others, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. A car bomb killed seven other people in Baghdad.

The series of attacks shows the ongoing security challenges facing Iraq as the U.S. shifts responsibility to this country’s own soldiers and police following the sharp decline in violence since last year.

The first attack in Mosul occurred when a suicide car bomber attacked a U.S. patrol, the U.S. military said. There were no American casualties, but five Iraqis were killed, including three young boys, the U.S. said.

Another suicide car bomber targeted Iraqi police in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. Twenty-five people were wounded, the U.S. said.

In Baghdad, a parked car bomb exploded in a commercial street in the Bayaa district, killing seven people and wounding nine others, police said. …

The southwestern Baghdad neighborhood was the scene of bitter Sunni-Shiite fighting until last year when the U.S. troop “surge,” the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida and a cease-fire by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr brought down violence to its lowest level in four years. …


War-Weary Saddam Victims Miss His Iron Rule

Oct. 11, 2008

DUJAIL, Iraq — Saddam Hussein was hanged for killing 148 Shi’ite men and boys in Dujail in 1982. But today, some people in this town on the Tigris say they miss life under the Iraqi dictator because they felt more secure.

Even some of those from Dujail whose family members were murdered and imprisoned during Saddam’s iron-fisted rule seemed seduced by the idea of a strong leader after years of chaos, bloodshed and deprivation since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“If someone like Saddam came back, I’d not only support him, I’d invite him to dinner. My uncle was killed in 1982 in the Dujail incident. Still, life then was a million times better than now,” said Saad Mukhlif, a Shi’ite.

Nostalgia for Saddam and his Sunni-led government in this largely Shi’ite town mirrors a country-wide sense of frustration despite a drop in attacks and killings. …

“(Prime Minister) Nuri al-Maliki is sitting in (Baghdad’s fortified) Green Zone, what’s he doing to protect us? What’s the point of this government?” said Mohammed Mehdi, a Shi’ite, whose cousin was jailed in 1982 and whose brother was killed in a car bomb in Dujail last month.

“Saddam Hussein is the only noble leader we’ve had,” he added, before shouting “God bless Saddam 1,000 times,” within earshot of U.S. troops accompanying reporters visiting the town, 30 miles north of Baghdad.

Mehdi and Mukhlif’s views were echoed elsewhere as Reuters spoke to around 15 passers-by and shopkeepers in Dujail’s main street.

A crowd of men and boys gathered to sing Saddam’s praises, and boys on their way home from school chanted: “After Saddam, came the destroyers” and complained of a lack of electricity, clean water and money for school books.

“Saddam didn’t kill anyone without a reason,” said 14-year-old Ahmed Ali Ahmed. “Now these bombs just attack everybody. Everyone says it, Sunni or Shi’ite. Life was better under Saddam.” …

For some people in Dujail, it appears the horrors of the past five years have superseded the atrocities of 1982. …

Ahmed Jawad, a policeman with both Sunni and Shi’ite relatives, lost 27 members of his tribe in 1982, including an uncle. But he too feels nostalgic for the Saddam era.

“Before we could visit any province. Now you could get killed,” he said. Asked whether he would want the return of someone like Saddam, he said: “I wish. A leader who could provide security? I wish.” …

Shopkeeper Seif al-Zubaidy said his life had improved since Saddam’s fall. His business was doing well, and his family, which opposed Saddam, was no longer persecuted. “Whatever happens in Iraq, from north to south, life is still better than under Saddam. …


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008 as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol killed three Iraqis and wounded two others in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. A car bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol, also in Mosul, wounded 25 people, the statement said.

BAGHDAD – A bomb planted in a parked car killed nine people and wounded 13 when it exploded in a busy commercial street in the Bayaa district of southern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Two Iraqi soldiers were killed by a sniper in the Mansour district of west-central Baghdad, Major-General Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for Baghdad security operations, told Reuters.

SULAIMAN PEK – A roadside bomb hit an Iraqi army patrol and wounded an army major near the town of Sulaiman Pek, 100 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – Five policemen and two civilians were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in the New Baghdad district of eastern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded three policemen and one civilian when it exploded near a police patrol in Qahira district of northern Baghdad, police said.

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