Christians killed in Iraq bomb attacks on Christmas Day

By staff writers
25 Dec 2013

Two bombs have killed at least 35 people in Christian areas of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Christmas Day.

Officials report that the second device exploded near a Roman Catholic church when worshippers were leaving their Christmas service. It killed 24 people.

An initial bomb went off at a local market, killing 11 more people. The devices seemed timed to go off in close chronological proximity, police say.

Both blasts occurred in the Dora area of Baghdad. More people have been injured at both sites.

It is not yet clear whether the attacks were specifically targeted at worshippers.

Iraq's ancient Christian community has gone down from an estimated population of nearly one million to fewer than half that number over the past ten years since the US-led war on Iraq.

The bomb outside St John's Catholic church exploded in a parked car, shortly after a blast at an outdoor market in the mainly Christian al-Athorien district.

No-one has yet admitted responsibility.

Churches have increasingly been targeted across Iraq since 2003. An attack by gunmen in 2010 on the Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad left more than 50 people dead.

A surge in sectarian violence this year has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 civilians in Iraq, the highest annual number of fatalities since 2008, reports the BBC.

The great majority of sectarian attacks in Iraq have targeted Shia civilians and the smaller Sunni population.

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