Christians targeted in Iraq

While explosions target Christians across Baghdad, killing 2, government says it will protect them.

    Homes of minority Christians have been attacked, causing many of them to flee. [AFP]

    At least two people have been killed and 18 others wounded in a series of bomb attacks against the homes of minority Christians in different parts of Baghdad, police and interior ministry officials said on Thursday.

    Assailants in southwestern Baghdad threw two grenades inside the home of a Christian family, leaving two people fatally wounded and injuring five more, the AP news agency reported, citing police sources.

    In a different neighbourhood in eastern Baghdad, attackers planted a bomb near a Christian home. Two people were injured in that attack.

    Then another bomb planted near a Christian house in western Baghdad exploded, wounding one member of the family as well as a civilian who was driving by, police said, without giving further details of the wounded.

    Confirming the fatalities, Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, the Iraqi military spokesman, said a bomb planted near the fence of a Christian home in southern Baghdad also exploded but he had no information about casualties in that incident.

    "The aim of these attacks is to prevent Christians from celebrating the New Year's holiday," al-Moussawi said.

    Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Baghdad, said the explosions took place outside as well as in the yards of Christian homes across the capital.

    "The attacks took place over a span of two hours. They were not simultaneous, but they appear to be co-ordinated," she said.

    "Some grenades were even lobbed into yards of these homes. They were simply home made bombs. When the police arrived at the scene they found unexploded bombs still lying there."

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but recent deadlier attacks that left dozens killed have been claimed by al-Qaeda-linked groups.

    Thousands flee

    "Christmas Eve and day had gone by without incident, but unfortunately that tense calm is now shattered," said our correspondent.

    Thousands of Christians are reported to have already fled the capital to the relatively safer north after a series of attacks targeting the community since October.

    The government of Iraqi Kurdistan in the north of the country has invited Christians to take refuge there, while the local federal government in Baghdad has also said it will protect them, our correspondent reported.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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