By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– Hundreds of Iraqi Christian families are fleeing Iraq’s capital Baghdad and the town of Mosul as murderers target families in their own homes and workplaces, a well-informed advocacy group said Wednesday, December 8.
Barnabas Fund said the latest group of refugees comes amid news that an elderly Christian couple and their daughter became the latest victims of what it called “the relentless campaign” against the country’s Christian minority.
Four gunmen reportedly raided the property in Baghdad and repeatedly shot them with silenced pistols. “The victims, Hikmat and Samira Sammak – like many Iraqi Christians – had left the capital and gone to live in the north. Tragically, they had just returned briefly to Baghdad to finalize the sale of their home and furniture,” Barnabas Fund added.
Two weeks ago, Christian brothers Saad and Raad Hannah were shot dead in their car workshop in Mosul, rights activists said. The incident followed the assassination of two other Christians by gunmen who burst into their Mosul home.
“These raids come after the hostage siege at a Baghdad church on October 31 that left more than 50 people dead. The Islamic State of Iraq – an Al-Qaeda front group – claimed responsibility for that attack and threatened further violence,” added Barnabas Fund, which has close contacts with Christians in mainly Muslim nations such as Iraq.
The militants said in statements that the “killing sword will not be lifted” and that Christians everywhere were now “legitimate targets”.
“As the situation becomes increasingly perilous, Christian families are leaving Baghdad and Mosul – either fleeing the country altogether or heading in waves to the northern cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan,” Barnabas Fund told BosNewsLife in a statement.
About 500 families were reportedly to be on the move to the Kurdish region.
“The refugees leave behind their homes, possessions and work. And although the authorities have promised to give $400 to every family who moves, some Christians have commented that this is not enough to cover even one month’s rent for a flat in the north,” Barnabas Fund explained.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund said that Christians in Iraq are facing the agonizing dilemma of either living in “constant fear” if they stay in their homes “or losing everything” if they leave.
“We must continue to uphold our Iraqi brothers and sisters in prayer and be ready to provide for their practical needs during this crisis,” he added.