Many Christians die in coalition bombing
Reports have emerged that Bartulla, a Christian village just 12 km from Mosul in the north of Iraq, was bombed when Coalition planes hit the local Baíath Party headquarters on 31st march.
Estimates suggest that approximately 20 Christians were killed and 75 were wounded.
The Barnabas Fund, which works on behalf of persecuted Christians says that one of its partners spoke with Christian leaders from over seventy churches across Iraq last Thursday. Since then the targeting of Iraqi telecommunications systems has made contact by phone virtually impossible.
Iraq is estimated to have approximately 700,000 Christians, half of whom reside in areas under the control of Saddam Husseinís regime. The other half are in the Kurdish authority areas of the north, and have been suffering alongside their Muslim neighbours in the war in Iraq.
Until the bombing of Bartulla they had been largely spared the casualties of war suffered by many Iraqi civilians.
The Barnabas Fund sugests that the main problem for both Christian and Muslim Iraqis is the distress and psychological pressure caused by bombing which is occurring 24 hours a day in some areas.
The Air Command Centre in Baghdad, which is situated in a Christian area of the city, has been destroyed and much damage was reportedly suffered. One senior Christian leader had the windows and doors of his home blown in by the blast.
Many Christians have left Baghdad to return to their ancestral homelands in the north of Iraq until the war is over.
The refugees from Baghdad are being housed in churches, schools and peopleís homes. Some Christians have also fled into Syria. But the government has threatened to execute those who have left and seize the homes they left behind.
Alongside the general grief and distress both Muslim and Christian Iraqis are suffering, Christians have the added fear that they could be made the innocent victims of revenge attacks from angry Muslim neighbours who associate them with theëChristianí West.