Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Gunmen target Christian homes in Baghdad, 2 killed

Gunmen target Christian homes in Baghdad, 2 killed

Militants attacked at least three 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 after al-Qaida-linked militants last week threatened a wave of violence against them. Christians went so far as to tone down their Christmas celebrations, but the three attacks Thursday night demonstrated the intent of militants to keep the 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 another five, police said.
In a different neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, militants threw a grenade into another Christian home. Two people were injured in that attack.
Then a roadside bomb exploded near a Christian house in western Baghdad, injuring one member of the family as well as a civilian who was driving by, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The casualties were confirmed by hospital officials. All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to reporters.
Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed that two people were killed in three attacks against Christians in Baghdad Thursday evening.
"The aim off these attacks is to prevent Christians from celebrating the New Year's holiday," he said.
The attacks are sure to ratchet up tension among 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.
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, as pressure 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.
__
Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-21 05:00 GMT+08:00