Lamyaa Sabih and her sister, Walaa, died from their injuries sustained at their house early Wednesday, November 12, in the Alqahira residential area of the northern city of Mosul, said Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), an international Catholic charity.


Their mother, who lived with them, was also stabbed and is in critical condition, according to church workers. Police arriving at the scene were confronted with the bombing of a nearby security car, killing three policemen and badly damaging the Sabih family’s house, ACN said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it came amid growing Islamic extremism in the area from where thousands of Christians fled in recent weeks.

ACN said Lamyaa was single and Walaa was married with two teenage children, a boy and a girl. The sisters, both in their 40s, had worked for a local provincial council since the 1980s and were known to be devout Syrian Catholics, the group added.

“Initial reports received by ACN show how the incident has sparked fear and panic within the Christian community. Christians and other minorities are saying that the incident casts doubt on the Iraqi’s government’s bid to improve security with a massively increased police presence,” the group said in a statement.


It came as a further setback for police who were sent there after a campaign of reported violence and intimidation against Christians last month prompted a mass exodus of more than 2,000 families from Mosul. “After repeated government assurances about improved security, people started returning to Mosul, up to 500 families in the past two weeks,” ACN said.

Speaking from northern Iraq Priest Bashar Warda, who oversaw the charity’s emergency relief programs for Mosul refugees, described the incident as having a “dramatic” effect “on the faithful, who fear another wave of attacks.” He said, “It is clear that many would think of leaving Mosul again.”

However some Christians have fled to 99-percent Muslim Turkey, where they face new challenges, including reports of persecution. Church groups suggested that the violence in Mosul comes after a series of recent setbacks for Iraqi Christians, including last week’s decision by the Iraqi parliament to offer Christians just three seats in the January provincial elections, 10 fewer than proposed in previous legislation.

There are concerns this will limit Christians say in the political future of Iraq and religious freedom issues.


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