Hits Churches Across Iraq, 11 dead
According to the
last report 11 died and 75 were injured.
August 1, 2004
By OMAR SINAN,
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Assailants
triggered a coordinated series of explosions outside five churches
in Baghdad and Mosul during Sunday evening services, killing
11 people and wounding more than 50 in the first major assault
on Iraq (news - web sites)'s Christian minority since the 15-month-old
Separate violence beginning the night before killed 24, including
an American soldier, and wounded 101. The toll included a suicide
car bombing outside a Mosul police station that killed five people
and wounded 53, and clashes in Fallujah between U.S. troops and
insurgents that killed 12 Iraqis and wounded 39 others.
The unprecedented attacks against Iraq's 750,000-member Christian
minority seemed to confirm community members' fears they might
be targeted as suspected collaborators with American forces amid
a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.
"What are the Muslims doing? Does this mean that they want
us out?" Brother Louis, a deacon at Our Lady of Salvation,
asked as he cried outside the damaged Assyrian Catholic church.
"Those people who commit these awful criminal acts have
nothing to do with God. They will go to hell."
Fire engines and ambulances raced to the scenes of the bombings
as black smoke poured into the sky and U.S. attack helicopters
circled overhead. The explosions came just minutes apart and
hit four churches in Baghdad - two in Karada, one in the Dora
neighborhood and one in New Baghdad. A fifth church was hit in
Mosul, about 220 miles north of the capital. The attacks did
not appear to be suicide bombings, U.S. military and Iraqi officials
The Vatican (news - web sites) called the attacks "terrible
and worrisome," said spokesman Rev. Ciro Benedettini. Muslim
clerics condemned the violence and offered condolences to the
Christian community. "This is a cowardly act and targets
all Iraqis," Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, spokesman for radical
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told Al-Jazeera television. Mohammed
Fadil al-Samara'i, an official with the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party,
blamed terrorist groups and others "who profit from creating
civil disturbances in Iraq."
The attacks on the churches signaled a vast change in tactics
for insurgents, who have focused many previous attacks on U.S.
forces, Iraqi officials and police in a drive to push coalition
forces from the country, weaken the interim government and hamper
reconstruction efforts. To escape the chaos here, many of Iraq's
Christians have gone to neighboring Jordan and Syria to wait
for the security situation to improve.