Iraq: Christians targeted in new bombings

A series of bombings and mortar attacks in Baghdad late last night and this morning have left at least four dead and dozens injured, security sources have said. At least ten bombs and two mortar rounds exploded in a two-hour period this morning. The blasts were in mainly Christian districts including Camp Sara, Sinaa Street, al-Ghadeer and Doura, police said.

The attacks have come just ten days after the massacre at Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral, the Seat of the Syriac Bishop of Baghdad,  which left 52 dead among them women, children and two priests.

Al Qaeda militants claimed responsibility for the attacks. They recently declared that Christians are “legitimate targets” and say they will continue to attack them.

Christians have been living in the region for almost 2,000 years. Before the 1991 Gulf War there were about a million in Iraq. Less than half that number remain, as the population flees violence directed against it.

Emmanuel III Delly, the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, told the Reuters news agency: "They are chasing Christians in every neighbourhood in Baghdad.

"We can't do anything to stop them, but to pray to God they stop these crimes."

Tensions have been running high in predominantly Muslim Iraq since the election eight months ago, produced no clear winner.

Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions are all vying for power. An alliance between Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is pitched against  a bloc led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, who has Sunni backing. They are also negotiating with Iraq's Kurdish politicians.

Christian leaders have appealed for help from western leaders, the  Iraqi authorities, security forces and Muslim religious leaders, all of whom they, say are not giving the protection they need.

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