By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– Minority Christians were among those reminded of bloodshed Tuesday, December 8, as a wave of car bombings rocked the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least 118 people and wounding over 200 others. It was the worst violence to hit Baghdad, since October, when two massive car-bombs killed 155 people.
The blasts less than two weeks after two Catholic churches were bombed in the northern city of Mosul, Christians said. On the morning of November 26, a group of some 10 gunmen entered the Church of Saint Ephrem, ordered those inside to leave and placed explosives around the premises, Christians said.
Witnesses said that when the explosives detonated, the building was completely destroyed. Half an hour later, the attackers reportedly proceeded to the Mother House of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine and detonated more explosives. Although five believers were inside the building, no one was injured, said Christian rights group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
The attacks came after thousands of believers already fled Mosul and other areas of Iraq in recent months due to ongoing threats and persecution, church leaders said.
Archbishop Basile Casmoussa of Mosul said that the bombings were clearly part of an intimidation campaign against the Christian minority. Iraqi Christians reportedly described the attacks as “a Mafia warning,” and said they were being warned “to get out of the city.”
Tuesday’s bombings in Baghdad, were another reminder of growing tensions in Iraq.
Ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals across the capital, following the wave of powerful car-bombings, which struck at least four neighborhoods within minutes.
Iraqi TV showed a billowing plume of black smoke hanging over the site of one bombing, as firemen and rescue workers helped the wounded and picked through debris. The twisted and smoking carcass of a car bomb was visible in the street, next to other ruined vehicles.
A suicide-bomber also detonated his vehicle near a police patrol in the suburb of Dora, killing and wounding a number of students at a technical college near the explosion, as well as the policemen, news reports said.
The bombing overshadowed plans for political reforms. The Voice of America (VOA) network quoted an unidentified top Iraqi electoral official as saying Tuesday, December 8, that elections could be delayed until the beginning of March, while the United Nations urged elected officials to announce the date of the election “as soon as possible.”
The bombings came as a major setback for the international community after
violence for the month of November across Iraq dropped significantly, with government figures indicating that just 122 people died. That was seen as the lowest monthly toll since the US-led invasion in April 2003.