Attacks on Iraq Christians Intensify as Extremists Call for More Violence During Ramadan

A car bomb has exploded outside a cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, as anti-Christian violence continues in the troubled nation. In addition to this bomb, two further attacks took place on a church in Mosul.

|PIC1|The car bomb in Baghdad killed 2 and injured in 17, with the death toll rising further as attacks on Christians in Iraq occur on a regular basis.

Attacks are committed so frequently now that western media often no longer reports on the alarming situation. Christians groups in the area are pleading for help, and as a small minority in the country they remain highly vulnerable.

Other ethnic and minority groups in the region often have militias to protect them from attacks, but the Christians are known to be exposed to attacks freely, reports the Barnabas Fund.

The Barnabas Fund offers support to Christian communities in places where they face persecution and poverty. The organisation reported that a cathedral of the Ancient Church of the East suffered a double attack apparently designed to maximise casualties, on Sunday 24 September.

Barnabas Fund reports: "First, there was a small explosion under the car of the church minister as worshippers were leaving the church. Shortly after this, a much larger car bomb exploded on the other side of the narrow street seemingly intended to target the crowd who had gathered to help with the casualties caused by the first attack.

"These two explosions resulted in two people being killed, one a security guard for the church and the other a child. There were also at least 17 injured, of whom 9 were members of the church. Two of these remain in a critical condition. The cathedral itself was badly damaged."

In addition, in the Iraqi city of Mosul, a church was attacked when armed men fired around 80 shots.

Barnabas Fund explains: "There was no service in progress at the time and no one was killed or injured. Some damage was done to the eastern part of the church building and some windows were broken. Christians courageously went to the church for an evening service later in the day. Two days later on Tuesday, September 26 the same church was attacked with rockets and an explosive device detonated outside a door. There were no casualties."

Barnabas Fund told: "It should also be noted that the latest three attacks have fallen with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began last Sunday. Ramadan is often a time when Christians experience greater hostility from Muslims. Some Islamists in Iraq have called for more violence during Ramadan."

Barnabas Fund's International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo said, "The attacks in Mosul and Baghdad came just days after an attack on a church in Basra. Whether in the north, the center or the south of their country, Iraqi Christians are facing hostility and violence. This is an ongoing situation, made worse by the anti-Christian threats issued by some Islamist groups in Iraq after the Pope's speech on September 12.

"For example Al-Qaeda in Iraq said, 'We will destroy the cross...then all that will be accepted will be conversion or the sword (death). May God enable us to slit their throats...' The fact that we are now in Ramadan is also exacerbating the situation. We need to pray for the protection of Iraqi Christians, particularly on Fridays and Sundays, the two most dangerous days of the week for Christian minorities."

Barnabas Fund is now calling for Christians to pray for the families of those who have been killed and for those who were injured in this attack.