Three Christians Killed In Iraq; More Violence Feared

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Worthy News Middle East Service  

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News)-- Christians in Iraq held worship services Sunday, May 3, after they were urged not to flee despite the killing of three believers in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Gunmen shot and attacked Chaldean Catholic Christians in their Kirkuk homes last Sunday, April 26, killing three and injuring two, the U.S military and police said.

The first attack occurred in a neighbourhood in southern Kirkuk when cousins Suzan Latif David and Muna Banna David were killed at 10 p.m. local time in Kirkuk, according to Christians and officials.  American media quoted police as saying that the attackers slit the women's throats.

Soon after, Yousif Shaba and his sons Thamir and Basil were also shot in the same area, reportedly leaving the 17-year-old Basil dead. The other son and the father were wounded, police told reporters.

Christian observers said the attacks against these families echoed violence last year that triggered the flight of thousands of Christians from the northern city of Mosul, like Kirkuk a volatile mix of Arabs, Kurds and Christians.

MOSUL CHRISTIANS KILLED

At least 14 Christians were killed in Mosul in the first two weeks of October, reports said. Most of the families have returned home, despite fears of more violence.

Kirkuk's Chaldean archbishop urged Christians to remain in their city. Louis Sako told mourners at a cathedral in the ethnically mixed city that last Sunday's anti-Christian attacks were outrageous.

"The main objective of these crimes is to create chaos and promote strife and divisions among the people of Kirkuk. [However] I call on Christians not to be jarred by these crimes and to stay in Kirkuk. We are sons of this city," he added in published remarks.

There have been warnings of more extremist violence at a time when the U.S. military is reducing its presence in Iraq. (With Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).

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