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Middle East

New attacks on Iraqi Christians leave three dead

media Maliki visits the cathedral targeted last month Reuters

Christians in the Iraqi capital Baghdad were targeted Wednesday in a spate of early morning bomb and mortar attacks on homes which left at least three people dead and 26 wounded, an interior ministry official said.

"Two mortar shells and 10 homemade bombs targeted the homes of Christians in different neighbourhoods of Baghdad ... the toll is three dead and 26 wounded," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Wednesday’s attacks come 10 days after armed Islamists seized a Baghdad cathedral leaving 44 Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security forces personnel dead following a shootout when it was stormed by troops.

On 3 November, Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Baghdad cathedral bloodbath saying it was to force the release of converts to Islam allegedly being detained by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

The extremists also declared Christians everywhere were "legitimate targets”.

A senior Iraqi clergyman said at the weekend Iraq's Christians should leave the country or face being killed at the hands of Al-Qaeda. "If they stay they will be finished, one by one," said Archbishop Athanasios Dawood.

Iraq's premier Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday cautioned other countries not to encourage Christians to abandon their homeland, after France took in dozens of people wounded in the 31 October cathedral attack.

On his first visit to the church targeted in that attack, Maliki said that at a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 he had asked the pontiff "not to let the east be emptied of Christians, nor the West of Muslims."


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