A car bomb was recently detonated outside a church in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk injuring at least nineteen people, including a priest. More than 40 homes were damaged by the blast.
The United States deplores the attack outside the Holy Family Church and extends its condolences to the victim's families and loves ones. Attacks like this, which target religious minorities, said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a written statement, demonstrate the extent to which certain terrorist groups will go to disrupt the progress Iraq has made toward reducing violence.
This latest attack on a church is part of a pattern of stepped up violence by terrorists against Iraq's minority Christian population. An attack on a Christian church in Baghdad on October 31st, 2010, left 58 worshippers dead, including two priests. It was one of the worst in a spate of attacks that have targeted Iraqi Christians and have left scores dead.
After the attack on the Syrian-Catholic church in Kirkuk, the Syrian-Catholic Archbishop, Yohanna Petros Mouche, has asked the Iraqi government to guarantee better security in the country. Speaking about the alleged terrorist he explained, that the terrorist was "perhaps an Iraqi by passport, but certainly not in his heart, because a true Iraqi does not eat the flesh of his brother." He called on Iraqi religious leaders to "strongly denounce the repulsive crime, which damages the reputation of Islam and the dignity of Iraq."
The Archbishop went on to say that "I hope that all what is happening in Iraq today, will only serve to consolidate the firmness of faith of our Christians and their solidarity with one another" and added, "No matter how big the evil may be, it can’t shake faithful hearts. Brave souls stay firm."
The United States is confident that the government of Iraq will take all necessary steps to bring the people responsible for this horrific act to justice and continue its efforts to improve the security situation for all Iraqis, including those whose communities are threatened on the basis of their faith and beliefs.