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Iraqi Christians targeted in coordinated church bomb attacks

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Iraq

It was a coordinated attack to target churches at the same time

Kirkuk Deputy Police Chief Major-Gen Torhan Abdulrahman

A blast outside a church injured 23 people as police foiled two further car bomb attacks on churches in northern Iraq on the same morning.

Bombed_Church-4X3.jpg
An Iraqi boy surveys the damage
to the bombed church in Kirkuk
Photo: ankawa.com

A car bomb exploded near a church in Kirkuk at around 5.30am (2.30am GMT) on Tuesday (2 August), severely damaging the building and around 30 surrounding homes; nearby cars were also set on fire.

The church leader, Rev. Imad Yalda, was the only person inside the church at the time of the blast and was injured. A newborn baby was among the other 22 wounded; they were residents whose homes in the predominantly Christian and Turkmen neighbourhood of Shaterlo were hit. One Christian man, Mati Shaba, is in a serious condition.

Following the blast, police discovered vehicles packed with explosives outside two other churches in Kirkuk and defused the bombs.

Rev. Haithem Akram, the leader of one of the targeted churches, said,

The terrorists want to make us flee Iraq, but they will fail. We are staying in our country.

Iraqi Christians are said to be “sad and in shock” after the attacks, which happened two days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hopes dashed

The coordinated attacks come just a month after the first church to be built in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion opened in Kirkuk. Hundreds of Christians gathered for its launch, heralding the new church as a defiant statement against violent attempts to drive them from their homeland. After that momentary celebration, their hopes and calls for peace have now once again been dashed.

Iraqi Christians have come under frequent attack since the 1990-91 Gulf War, when they were inadvertently associated with the Western invaders because of their faith. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes, with many seeking refuge in neighbouring countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Violence against Christians in Iraq intensified with a hostage siege on a Baghdad church last October that left more than 50 people dead. Since then, Christians have been targeted and killed by militants in their homes and workplaces.

The latest bombings come as three people were sentenced to death, and another was given a 20 year prison term, for their part in the Baghdad church siege.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 13 hours ago

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

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  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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