Church Attack in Northern Iraq Wounds 23

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

iraq christian newsBAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News)-- Although security forces found and disabled two cars packed with explosives in northern Iraq Tuesday, a third exploded outside a Christian church, wounding 23 people.

The planned co-coordinated attacks began at 6 a.m. when the first car exploded outside the Syrian Catholic church, severely damaging it and several nearby homes where most of the injuries occurred, according to Kirkuk police.

"The terrorists want to make us flee Iraq, but they will fail," said the Rev. Haithem Akram, a priest of one of the targeted churches. "We are staying in our country. The Iraqi Christians are easy targets because they do not have militias to protect them. The terrorists want to terrorize us, but they will fail."

Following the blast at the Syrian Catholic Church, police discovered more car bombs parked outside the Christian Anglican Church and the Mar Gourgis Church, all in downtown Kirkuk; all three bombs were directed against Iraq's indigenous Christians, nearly one million of whom have already fled the country since Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Last year, violence against Christians culminated in the siege of a Catholic cathedral in downtown Baghdad on All Hallows Eve; 68 parishioners died and dozens more were wounded when al-Qaida suicide bombers held them hostage for hours before detonating their explosives belts.

Since then, both the Vatican and the U.S. Congress have pleaded for the Iraqi government to do more to protect its Christian population, but of a pre-war 1.4 million Christians, estimates show that only half that number now remain in Iraq.