Five Christian churches in Iraq, including Chaldean Catholic churches, were attacked with bombs on Sunday evening, 1 August, killing 11 and wounding more than 50. It was the first major attack against Iraq's Christian minority by terrorist insurgents since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Christians in Iraq and outside, including the Vatican, have long worried that extremist Muslims desiring an Islamic state would eventually target Christians. Although Christians are a small minority within Iraq - about three percent of the 24.2 million population - they have been able to worship freely for generations. But in recent weeks there have been incidents of arson and vandalism.
Bishop Rabban Al-Qas insisted that the bombings were done by terrorist groups from outside Iraq. He told the AsiaNews service: "It is not the work of Iraqis. Iraqis have never done such things." He added: "By striking at Eastern Christians they want to strike at the West. For them Christianity and the Western world are but one and the same."
The top Islamic cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, condemned the attacks as targetting "Iraq's unity, stability, and independence" and called them "hideous crimes."
Iraq's Government blamed the attacks on al Quaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Catholic World News - www.cwnews.com