US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)photograph by ACoE photographer Jim Gordon of central Baghdad as seen from a US Army Blackhawk helicopter
Three Christmas Day bombings in Christian areas of Baghdad, Iraq left at least 38 dead, with one car bomb targeting worshipers leaving a Christmas service, according to Iraqi officials.
Christmas for Iraqi Christians is an especially difficult time of the year, with many either celebrating the holiday in private or not at all.
Other bombings on Wednesday killed at least 10 people in three attacks targeting Shia pilgrims and police, according to Iraqi police sources cited by Al Jazeera.
The security around Iraqi churches on Christmas Eve was significant. Reuters reports that the Mar Yousif Syriac Catholic church in western Baghdad “looked like a walled fortress.”
Soldiers and police were present, running bomb detection equipment over cars and searching trunks, bags and visitors before the evening service.
Just a few years ago, the church would have been packed, according to Reuters, but it was barely two-thirds full this year, reflecting the exodus of Christians form Iraq.
Human rights activist William Warda told Reuters that an estimated 10 to 20 Christians are still leaving the country every day.
“Many Christians … are fleeing from the country because of this issue, because there is no sign of a bright future,” Warda said.
The U.S. Embassy in Iraq spoke out against the bombings on Wednesday, calling it “deliberate and senseless” targeting of Christians, according to NBC News.
“The United States Embassy condemns in the strongest terms today’s attacks in the Dora area of Baghdad that targeted Christians celebrating Christmas,” the embassy statement said.
A single bombing near a church in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of Dora killed at least 26 people and left 38 more injured, a police officer said to the Associated Press. CNN reported that 27 were killed and 56 wounded.
Louis Sako, the leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told the AP that he did not think that the church in Dora was the target. The bomb went off after the Mass, but none of the worshippers were hurt, according to Sako.
Earlier Wednesday, two other bombs went off in a market in the Christian area of Athorien, according to NBC News. The blasts killed 11 and wounded 21, an officer told the AP.
“The Christian community in Iraq has suffered deliberate and senseless targeting by terrorists for many years, as have many other innocent Iraqis,” the embassy said in a statement.
In the statement, the embassy said that they abhor all such attacks and that the U.S. is committed to continuing the counterterrorism partnership with the Iraqi government.
“We extend condolences to the victims and their families and wish a rapid recovery for those who were injured,” the statement said.
No one immediately took responsibility for the bombings, but al Qaeda and other insurgents have often targeted Iraqi Christians, according to the AP.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed that at least 38 were killed 70 others were injured in the attacks, according to CNN.
The Christmas Day bombings brought the casualties in Iraq so far this month up to 441 people, according to the Associated Press. The U.N. estimates that over 8,000 people have been killed so far in 2013.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by End The Lie of End the Lie.
End the Lie was founded in 2011 with the goal of publishing the latest in alternative news from a wide variety of perspectives on events in the United States and around the world. For more information, find End the Lie on Twitter and Facebook or check out our homepage.