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8/4/04 - TARGETTING IRAQI CHURCHES - 2004-08-05

Terrorists attacked five Christian churches in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Mosul. The car bombs killed eleven people and wounded more than forty others. The attacks were carried out as church goers were inside attending religious services. A sixth bomb was found outside a Baghdad church and was disarmed before it went off.

The Christian minority in Iraq numbers seven-hundred-fifty-thousand people. Tomas Ramzi, an employee of the Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad, says “This is brutality, and this attack is not just against Christians, it is against all Iraqis.” Brother Louis, a deacon at Our Lady of Salavation church in Baghdad, said, “Those people who commit these awful criminal acts have nothing to do with God.”

The attacks against Iraqi Christians are part of a continuing insurgency which is trying to prevent a democratic Iraq from emerging. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U-S-led coalition will help Iraqi security forces deal with the threat:

“We hope that, as we move through this year and get to the elections and beyond, the security situation will improve, the insurgency will be brought under better control, if not eliminated, and that Iraqi forces over the next six-to-eight months will be building up their capability.”

Many of Iraq’s Muslims condemned the church bombings. Shi’ia Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on Iraqis to unite against those who would kill Christians and destroy their houses of worship. And Mohammed Fadil al-Samara, an official with the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, said that the attacks were committed by those "who profit from creating civil disturbances in Iraq.”

“The struggle is, first and foremost, an Iraqi struggle,” says President George W. Bush, and the coalition “respects that spirit -- and the Iraqi people will not stand alone.”