Nov 1 2010
…their collective silence is deafening when Muslims destroy churches and kill Christians as they did in Iraq over the weekend, killing at least 58 and wounding 78.
AP Iraq’s dwindling Christian community was grieving and afraid after Muslim militants seized a Baghdad church during evening Mass, held the congregation hostage and triggered a raid by Iraqi security forces. The resulting bloodbath left at least 58 people killed and 78 wounded — nearly everyone inside.
The attack, claimed by an al-Qaida-linked organization, was the deadliest ever recorded against Iraq’s Christians whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as the community has fled to other countries.
Islamic militants have systematically attacked Christians in Iraq since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Catholics made up 2.89 percent of Iraq’s population in 1980; by 2008 they were merely 0.89 percent.
Sunday’s bloodbath began at dusk, when a car bomb went off in the area and then militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the Iraqi stock exchange.
The car bombing and the attack on the stock exchange, in which only two guards were injured, may have been an attempt by the militants to divert attention from their real target — the nearby church in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood.
That attack soon followed. The gunmen went inside the church and took about 120 Christians hostage.
At least 58 people were killed, including 12 policemen as well as five bystanders thought to have been killed by the car bombing and blasts outside the church before the attackers stormed inside. Forty-one Christians inside the church also died, including two priests.
It was unclear whether most hostages died before or during the rescue.