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Dec 30th, 2010


Gunmen Target Christian Homes, 2 Killed

Attacks send fear into already terrified tiny Iraqi community


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)

By Rebecca Santana

December 30, 2010

BAGHDAD — Militants attacked at least four Christian homes Thursday night with a combination of grenades and bombs, killing two people and sending fear into the already terrified tiny Christian community.

It was the first attack against the country’s Christian community since al-Qaida-linked militants last week threatened a wave of violence against them. Christians went so far as to tone down their Christmas celebrations in what was a peaceful holiday, but the attacks Thursday night demonstrated the intent of militants to keep up their deadly pressure on the Christian community.

In the deadliest attack, assailants in southwestern Baghdad threw two grenades inside the home of a Christian family, killing two people and injuring five more, police said.

In a different neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, militants planted a bomb near a Christian home. Two people were injured in that attack.

Then another bomb planted near a Christian house in western Baghdad exploded, injuring one member of the family as well as a civilian who was driving by, police said. …

The attacks are sure to ratchet up tension in the tiny Christian community still living in Baghdad. At least 68 people were killed in October when militants stormed a Baghdad church during Mass and took the congregation hostage.

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled to northern Iraq, fearing further attacks.

Father Mukhlis, a priest at the Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad where the Oct. 31 hostage incident occurred, called the Thursday attacks “direct oppression” against Iraqi Christians. …

Last week, al-Qaida warned of further violence against Christians, leading many in the community to tone down their Christmas celebrations and cancel many events such as evening Mass and appearances by Santa Claus.

The Christmas holidays also coincide this year with the Shiite holy month of Muharam, an important holiday for the country’s Shiite Muslim majority.

Some Christians said they were also playing down the Christmas holiday this year out of respect for their Shiite neighbors, but other Christians reported intimidation by members of the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia backed by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who pressured them not to celebrate the holiday publicly.

Christian leaders estimate 400,000 to 600,000 Christians still live in Iraq, according to a recent State Department report. At one time before the war, that number was as high as 1.4 million by some estimates.

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Related reports on this site

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)

Christian Persecution Continues in New Iraq (Aug. 3, 2011)

Christians Fleeing New Iraq (Jan. 20, 2011)

After Saddam, Christian Persecution in New Iraq (Dec. 19, 2010)

Rivers of Christian Blood in Iraq (Nov. 3, 2010)

Catholic Hostages Killed in Iraq (Oct. 31, 2010)

Christian Cleansing in Iraq (July 12, 2009)

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

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

Christians Flee Iraqi City (Oct. 12, 2008)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 30, 2009

Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

One year ago today, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Army Staff Sgt. David H. Gutierrez, 35, San Francisco, Calif., died on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2009 at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his dismounted patrol with an improvised explosive device in Howz-e Madad.

Staff Sgt. Gutierrez was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — December 30, 2008

Exodus: Iraqi Refugees Head for US

THE IRAQI EXODUS

An exodus of more than 2 million Iraqis is reshaping the
Middle East — with ominous implications for the region.

Two years ago today, on Dec. 30, 2008 I reported that more than 2 million Iraqis had fled the kidnappings, car bombings, and killings that have racked Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003; that the United States admitted more than 16,000 Iraqi refugees in 2007-2008 and expected to more than double that number by the end of 2009; and that a coalition of advocates, including Refugees International, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, called on the United States to nearly triple the amount of money it spends on the displaced Iraqis and allow the entry of as many as 105,000 in 2009 — a sevenfold increase in admissions.

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7 Responses to “Christians Persecuted in Iraq”
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