Church bombs: Top insurgent blamed

08:18:50 AM
03 2004

Church bombs: Top insurgent blamed

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Deadly weekend attacks targeting Christian worshippers in Iraq bear the markings of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his operatives, Iraq's national security adviser said Monday

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According to Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the anti-Christian nature of the attacks and their apparent coordination point to al-Zarqawi, who has taken responsibility for numerous attacks against Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners.

Car bombings Sunday evening near four churches in Baghdad and one in the northern city of Mosul killed at least seven people.

In figures released Monday, the Iraqi Health Ministry said the Baghdad attacks killed five and wounded 46 others.

Hospital officials in Mosul said two people died in the car bombing, with another 15 wounded.

Earlier, the U.S. military and Iraqi police reported more deaths.

In blaming al-Zarqawi for the bombings, al-Rubaie said the insurgent leader and his group have several goals in staging the attacks:

To drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians in Iraq

To take advantage of a perception among some Iraqis that the nation's small Christian community, about 3 percent of the population, is helping the multinational forces in Iraq

To increase the anti-Christian feeling among Islamic radicals in the restive Sunni triangle region in order to increase pressure on Christians to leave Iraq

Al-Rubaie said the campaign echoes former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's efforts after the first Gulf War to impose stricter regulations on Christians.

The action led to the departure of some 250,000 Christians, most of whom Al-Rubaie said were highly educated and highly skilled.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, also decried the "vicious" bombings and said "the Christian citizens' rights and other religious minorities' should be respected."

According to the U.S. military, the blasts in Baghdad took place Sunday between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. (10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. ET).

The largest was in the Karada neighborhood central Baghdad, where a car bomb exploded outside a church, leaving a crater more than 5 feet wide.

Police and emergency workers responding to the first blast discovered a second car they suspected had been rigged as a bomb.

The explosives in that vehicle detonated before they could be disarmed, according to police.

The U.S. military said another makeshift bomb containing 15 mortar rounds was "found and cleared."

Churches in the southern Baghdad neighborhoods of New Baghdad and Dura were also targeted, said a spokesman for the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division.

A separate car bombing earlier Sunday killed five people and wounded 52 others, according to Mosul hospital officials.


Source by Redazione

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