10 Iraq Churches Bombed in 2 Weeks

The tenth Iraqi church bombed within two weeks recently occurred in the northern city of Mosul, injuring two people and destroying part of the church structure.

A suspicious car abandoned outside of the Al-Tahira Chaldean church in Al-Shiffa district of the city exploded before a bomb squad could disarm the device, according to the Christian persecution news agency Compass Direct. The blast slightly wounded a police officer and a little girl.

"It happened behind the cathedral, where we normally give our Christian instruction, but was at a time when we had no activities," said Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni, according to Compass.

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No worshippers were inside the church at the time of the explosion, but damages were done to church windows, the front door and a wall around the church grounds.

The attack last Thursday was the second on the Al-Tahira Church, which was also attacked about two years ago, according to Agence France-Presse.

Al-Tahira joins a chain of recent violence targeted at Christian places of worship, most notably the seven churches and convents bombed in what appeared to be coordinated attacks on Jan. 6.

Although no one was killed in the attacks, they have caused serious damage to many of the church buildings.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appeared shortly after the bombings to express deep concern for his country's Christian minority and vow more protection.

But many Christian leaders lament that no one is actually helping Iraqi Christians, who are extremely vulnerable because they have no political or military influence in a war-wracked country caught in daily sectarian crossfire.

"Many people have been killed and many have been kidnapped this year, so our people are very sad and afraid," Bishop Warduni said.

The Chaldean priest noted that terrorists not only attack churches but also mosques, according to Compass.

Iraq's persistent violence combined with targeted aggression against Christians have forced hundreds of thousands of Christians to flee the country. Most end up hiding out as illegal aliens in neighboring countries where they cannot officially be employed and where their children cannot go to school.

It is estimated that Christians make up nearly half of all refugees leaving the country, although they make up less than three percent of the country's population. Also troubling is the fact that there are only about 600,000 Iraqi Christians remaining in the country, down from 1.2 million before the 2003 U.S.-led offensive.

Many human rights experts have warned that if there is no intervention, the Iraqi Christian population could become extinct through emigration and persecution.

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