Shrinking Christian Community in Iraq Hit with More Bombs

Bombs targeting Christian homes in Baghdad killed two people and wounded more than a dozen Thursday night.

It was another wave of attacks against the small Christian population which is still shaken from the massacre in October that left dozens of worshippers dead and forced thousands to flee the country.

Ten bombs went off at different Christian homes on Thursday while four were defused by security forces.

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While many Iraqi Christians have been weighing the decision to stay in their homeland or leave to escape the danger and persecution, the latest attacks have convinced some to flee.

"We will love Iraq forever, but we have to leave it immediately to survive," Noor Isam, 30, told The New York Times. "I would ask the government, 'Where is the promised security for Christians?'"

For the past two months, Iraqi Christians have been living in fear and uncertainty as al-Qaida-linked militants effectively waged war against the minority.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni Islamic insurgent groups that include al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the Oct. 31 attack at Our Lady of Salvation Church that left at least 58 people dead, and then threatened more attacks. Less than two weeks later, at least 11 roadside bombs exploded in three Christian neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing five people. The militant group also claimed responsibility for the November violence.

Fear has paralyzed many of the Christians, who have refused to leave their homes because of the chance of being targeted while out on the streets. But the latest bombings are evidence that there is little refuge for Christians in Baghdad.

Since the church massacre, at least 1,000 Christian families have fled Baghdad for northern Iraq or to the nearby countries of Jordan, Syria and Turkey. The Christian population has shrunk dramatically since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 when there were an estimated 1.4 million Christians. Today, the population has decreased to less than half.

Iraqi officials have acknowledged the failure of the government to protect the shrinking minority.

Maj. Hashim Ahmed, a police investigator, admitted, "The failure of our commanders and the government was clear, because they didn't take serious measures," as reported by The New York Times.

Human rights groups have urged prayers for Iraqi Christians. Open Doors USA has called the violence nothing short of a "religicide," or a decimation of a historic religious community.

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