Five churches were bombed in Iraq before dawn on Saturday. No one was injured in the attacks, which occurred between 4 and 6 a.m. at churches in four Baghdad neighborhoods.
Three churches were attacked with homemade bombs thrown from a car. The other two bombs were planted inside churches. The attacks occurred at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The same day, leaflets were scattered around Baghdad saying insurgents would attack hard and often throughout the month.
"We didn't expect that in Ramadan innocent people and places of worship would be attacked," said Majed Ismaeel, a 43-year-old furniture maker, as he surveyed the damage at the Saint Tuma Church. "The one who committed this is neither a Muslim nor a Christian, he is not human. We ask the government to fight them and destroy them."
Saint Joseph was the first church hit. Then "flames engulfed the Roman Catholic St. George's church in the central Baghdad district of Karrada, leaving its wood-built sanctuary charred," reports Agence France-Presse.
''It is a criminal act to make Iraq unstable and to create religious difficulties,'' the Rev. Zaya Yousef of St. George's Church said of the latest attacks. ''But this will not happen because we all live together like brothers in this country through sadness and happiness.''
The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical group, condemned the attacks.
Iraq's Christians have been fleeing the country, particularly following church attacks in August that left 11 dead. Saturday's attacks "will no doubt push people to emigrate," Father Raphael Qutaimi, acting bishop of the Syrian Catholic Church, said. "But this country has been ours for thousands of years. Our ancestors shed blood defending it. We mustn't leave ...1
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