NB: the statement "Armenian Christians in Iraq number only a few thousand" must be one of the most inacurate bits of reporting ever said about Iraq. (And for Iraq that is saying something!) Or maybe the reporter is seeing Bush's ideal Iraq 2 years from now.
Gunmen Attack Armenian, Chaldean Churches in Mosul
MOSUL (AFP/Reuters)--Two churches in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul came
under simultaneous attack, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Gunmen stormed into the city's Chaldean and Armenian churches in the latest
attacks on Iraq minority Christian community, witnesses and clerics said
"Gunmen entered the church at about 4:30 p.m. They gathered those present in
one room and planted explosive charges in different parts of the building,"
said Father Raghid Aziz Kara at the Chaldean church.
"We were then taken outside and the armed men set off the devices. We heard
three blasts," he told AFP outside the church which was set ablaze.
At the same moment, gunmen attacked an Armenian church, forcing out a
guard and two other people inside the building, the guard said, adding: "I
heard two explosions."
Smoke poured from the Armenian church and flames could be seen inside the
Chaldean church, Reuters reporters said. It was not clear how many people had
been in the churches when they were attacked but the number was apparently not
Mosul, with a population of 1.2 million, is home to many of Iraq's
who make up about three percent of the national population.
The Chaldean church, one of the largest in Mosul, was built in the 1950s and
enlarged four decades later.
The Chaldeans, whose 600,000 people represent the majority of Christians in
Iraq, are an oriental rite Catholic community.
Armenian Christians in Iraq number only a few thousand.
On November 8, at least three people were killed and 45 wounded when two
suspected car bombs exploded within minutes of each other outside two churches
in southern Baghdad.
In a coordinated assault on August 1, six car bombs killed 10 people and
injured 50 others outside churches in Baghdad and Mosul.
2 Mosul churches bombed, three people injured
Associated Press Worldstream
December 7, 2004 Tuesday 12:52 PM Eastern Time
MOSUL, Iraq -- Militants bombed two churches in Mosul on Tuesday,
injuring three people in a coordinated attack apparently aimed at
stirring trouble between religious groups in this ethnically diverse
Police officials and church leaders said gunmen stormed into the
churches and ordered people out of the buildings before detonating
explosives in both.
Deputy provincial governor Khasro Gouran said three people were
wounded in the first church attack, which occurred at 2:30 p.m.
(1130GMT) in eastern Mosul's Wihda neighborhood. Police officials had
no details on casualties. The religious denomination of the church
was not immediately clear, but it was believed to be Armenian.
An hour later, gunmen stormed the Chaldean Christian church in western
Mosul's Shefa neighborhood, forcing a handful of people out before
rigging it with explosives and detonating them, according to Father
Ragheed Aziz, of the church. No casualties were reported.
Area residents said several carloads of gunmen surrounded the Chaldean
church before 20 militants stormed the church compound.
U.S. military spokeswoman Capt. Angela Bowman confirmed that one
church had been attacked and set on fire. American soldiers were
dispatched to the investigate the bombings.
Islamic militants have regularly targeted different sectors of Iraq's
multiethnic population, including the minority Christians, in a bid
to disrupt the U.S.-led reconstruction of the war-scarred country.
Insurgents also launched two other attacks in the city, shooting dead
policeman Jassim Mohammed and firing a rocket-propelled grenade at
the home of police Lt. Col. Nashwan Mohammed, according to police
Capt. Ahmed Khalil.
In August, four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were blown up in
a coordinated series of car bombings, killing at least seven people
and wounding dozens more in the first significant strike against
Iraq's minority Christians since the U.S. invasion began last year.
One person was killed and 11 injured in the August bombing of the
church in Mosul, where a minority Christian community has for long
lived in harmony with the city's Sunni Arab majority, and many say
they still do. Any hostility toward Christians was mostly kept in
check under the toppled dictator, Saddam Hussein, who didn't allow
militant Islamists to gain clout.
But Iraq's community of 750,000 Christians has grown increasingly
anxious at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism since Saddam's ouster
and hundreds have fled to neighboring Jordan and Syria.
Some of Iraq's most feared Islamic militant terror networks, such
as the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and al-Qaida in Iraq, have claimed
responsibility for attacks in Mosul, the scene of a recent wave of
violence targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces and Kurds. Senior Muslim
leaders have condemned the violence, trying to quell Christian fears
they were being routed from the country.