Iraq: Five churches bombed

Five churches in Baghdad were bombed before dawn on Saturday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The blasts, caused by home made devices, hit the churches - four Catholic and one Orthodox - between 4 and 5.50am. There were no reports of casualties. The buildings have suffered extensive damage.

The first to be damaged was St Joseph's Church in west Baghdad, at 4am. St Joseph's in Dora in south Baghdad was hit at 4.20am. St Paul's in Dora was attacked at 4.40am; the Orthodox church in Karrada in central Baghdad suffered a blast at 4.50am, and the Catholic Church of St Thomas in Mansur in the west of the city was bombed at 5.50am.

Father Gabriel Shamami from St Joseph's Church, said: "Muslims and Christians have been living here in harmony for hundreds of years. I don't think Iraqis would do this, especially during Ramadan."

Monsignor Emmanuel Delly, the patriarch of the Chaldean Church, said there was nothing the tiny minority could do. He said: "If the government is powerless, what can we do." He called on the attackers "not to touch the holy sites."

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq denounced the attacks against the churches, Arabic television station al-Jazeera reports. There have been Christians in Iraq since the first century AD. Currently the Christian population numbers around 750,000 Christians.

Under Saddam Hussein Christians were protected. Since the rise of Islamic fundamentalism after the war, they have experienced growing discrimination and attacks and thousands have fled to neighbouring countries. In August devices were set off at four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul, killing a number of people and wounding dozens more.

Source: MISNA

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