By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

Iraqi Christians and churches are among those targeted in violence.
Iraqi Christians and churches are among those targeted in violence.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– Suspected Islamic militants targeted Christians in two seperate bomb attacks in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Christmas Day, killing at least 37 people and raising fears that the embattled Christian minority will face a new wave of extremism, officials said.

Most of the victims, at least 26 people, were reportedly killed and 38 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in the parking lot near the St. John’s Catholic Church in the capital’s Dora neighborhood. The explosion happened when worshippers participated in services for Christmas marking the birth of Jesus, according to witnesses.

A few minutes before the church bombing, some 800 meters (half-a-mile) away, about three other bombings rocked a market in an Assyrian Christian neighborhood, leaving 11 people dead and 22 wounded, officials said.

There was no immediately claim of responsibility for the attacks, but violence has risen to its worst levels in more than five years.


Hardline Islamic fighters, including Sunni militants linked to the al-Qaida terror group, have increased attacks on the Shi’ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and anyone seen as supporting it.

Wednesday’s attacks underscore concerns that the minority Christian community is again becoming a target of militants, following previous violence, including a 2010 attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, that killed nearly 60 people.

Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood was once known as “The Vatican of Iraq” and home to more than 30,000 Christian families. Today there are just an some 2,000 Christians living in the area, according to International Christian Concern (ICC) an advocacy group investigating the plight of reportedly persecuted Christians.

Following the removal of Saddam Hussein the area became a hotbed for Islamists and al-Qaida militants, according to ICC investigators.


The neighborhoods churches repeatedly were attacked and church leaders have been kidnapped, Christians said.

The Christmas Day bombings have pushed the number of civilian deaths in December to 441 and the total for the year above 8000, the United Nations said.

Todd Daniels, ICC regional manager for the Middle East, told BosNewsLife in a reaction that his group is “extremely troubled by the attacks on Christians as they mark the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.”

He said that “This is just the latest in a long series of attacks that are driving Christians out of the land where they have lived for nearly 2000 years.” Daniels urged the government and security forces to “take all steps possible to protect  its civilians, including Christians, and provide for their continued existence in the region.”

He also asked “Christians around the world to remember their brothers and sisters in Iraq and to stand with them in prayer.”


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(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).

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