Iranian pilgrims targeted in twin attacks near Karbala and in Najaf, both Shia holy cities.
|At least 14 roadside bombs exploded across the city on Wednesday [AFP]|
A series of bomb and mortar attacks targeting Christians have killed three people and injured 24 others in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, according to police sources.
Attackers detonated at least 14 roadside bombs in predominantly Christians areas within a two-hour period on Wednesday morning and a mortar round struck in the southern Doura district.
“These operations, which targeted Christians, came as a continuation of the [October 31] attack that targeted the Salvation church,” an Iraqi interior ministry source said.
The official referred to the October 31 attack that killed more than 50 people at a Catholic cathedral in the capital.
Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for that attack and has threatened more violence against the Christian community.
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Baghdad, said Christians in Iraq have been a typical target of al-Qaeda fighters following the US-led invasion in March 2003.
“We have seen Christians fleeing Iraq between 2004 and 2006. Their numbers now are down to a third,” she said.
“This is a stepped-up attack to revive the chaos that has affected the Christian community in the past.”
Younadem Kana, a Christian parliamentarian, condemned the violence and blamed police and military for failing to protect Christians despite boosting security measures at churches around the capital.
“These attacks are not targeting only Christians, but also the government that has promised to protect the Christians,” Kana said.
He said Wednesday’s bombings exposed “grave flaws in the structure and the work of Iraq’s security forces,” and that attacks will continue as long as the country remains without a government that represents all Iraqis.
Tensions have been running high since the inconclusive parliamentary elections in March left Shia, Sunni and Kurdish political factions rallying support for a new government and raising fears of renewed violence.