Iraq: Muslims attack church

On Oct. 31, Islamic extremists attacked worshipers at the Syrian Catholic Church of Baghdad, killing 59 Christians and severely injuring more than 80 others, according to VOM sources.

Several gunmen armed with automatic weapons and explosives entered the church during a worship service and opened fire on the worshipers. Two priests were among those killed in the attack. “[This church was attacked] because they are very active, especially among the youth and community,” VOM contacts said. “This church works closely with the United Bible Society and VOM by distributing Bibles and Action Packs in Iraq. This is the second time this church has been targeted; in 2004 it was hit with a car bomb.”

A militant organization called the Islamic State of Iraq, which has links to al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Compass Direct News.

Following the attack, sources told VOM that churches throughout the city had received death-threat letters, warning them to stop their Christian activities or face similar consequences. The threats have caused many churches to cancel services.
VOM contacts reported that on Nov. 2, 16 bombs exploded in Baghdad within an hour, killing 100 people and injuring 380.

This violent attack is the latest in a series of attacks on Iraqi Christians in recent years. In October 2008, more than a dozen Christians were killed in Mosul during a two-week period, and more than 2,000 families fled the city. The Christian community in Iraq is estimated at only 1.6 percent of Iraq’s population of about 29 million people, or about 464,000. Since 2003, Christian leaders, churches and businesses in Iraq have been frequent targets of attack by Islamic extremists. As a result, many believers have fled.

The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to pray for Iraqi Christians, especially for the families of those killed and injured in the Oct. 31 attack. Ask God to comfort and minister to them during this difficult time. Pray that in the aftermath of this brutal violence, Iraqi Christians will keep their eyes on Jesus, persevere in faith, and not grow weary or lose heart. Pray for peace and stability in Iraq.


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