By Worthy News Middle East Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (Worthy News)-- Iraqi Christians "requested prayers" Wednesday, December 16, after at least four people were killed in bombings targeting churches and a Christian school in Iraq's troubled northern city of Mosul, a Christian advocacy group confirmed.
Middle East Concern (MEC), which has close contacts with churches in the area, told Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife that one of three bombs rocked a Syriac Catholic Church early Tuesday, December 15. "Four people were killed, possibly bystanders, when a second bomb exploded 10 minutes later and grenades were thrown at a nearby Christian school," MEC said.
"That afternoon a larger bomb at a Syriac Orthodox Church caused significant damage, injuring a number of people," the group added.
The attacks followed the bombing on November 26 of two other church properties in Mosul. "There were no casualties, though a Chaldean Catholic Church was virtually destroyed," MEC said. Church leaders in Mosul have reportedly described these attacks as "the latest in a campaign to force Christians to leave" the area.
WARNING FROM AUTHORITIES
MEC said church leaders in Iraq's capital Baghdad have been warned by authorities that further bomb attacks might target church buildings, especially during the Christmas period.
"These attacks have occurred within a context of an increased number of bomb attacks, which many regard as part of a campaign to destabilize the country in the run up to parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year," MEC said.
Recent large bomb attacks in Baghdad targeted government buildings, although some nearby churches properties, the Anglican Church and the offices of the Chaldean patriarch were reportedly damaged.
"Nobody was injured" when the patriarch offices were damaged, "because all staff were attending mass at the time," MEC said. MEC said that Iraqi Christians have urged fellow believers to pray for "protection as they attend worship services over the Christmas period" and that "the bereaved will know the peace and comfort of Jesus."
In statements Iraqi Christians also asked for prayers for the injured and that "The perpetrators" will seek "the Father's forgiveness..." They urged authorities to provide "adequate protection, and actively promote religious and other forms of tolerance."
Iraq hosted at least 750,000 Christians when the U.S.-led invasion began five years ago but many, if not most of them, are believed to have fled to neighboring countries. (With reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).