A police officer inspects a burned vehicle after a bomb attack outside Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church in central Kirkuk, Iraq, north of Baghdad, Aug. 2.

Car bombs planted in front of Iraqi churches

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • August 3, 2011

VATICAN CITY - A car bomb exploded outside a Syrian Catholic church in the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk leaving at least 20 people injured.

The early morning attack Aug. 2 was the first time the Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church had been a target, Vatican Radio said.

Police defused two other car bombs — one in front of a Christian school and another in front of a Presbyterian church.

Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told Vatican Radio that the blast set nearby cars on fire and damaged not only the church, but also about 30 surrounding homes. Most of those injured were in their homes at the time of the blast.

The archbishop said he visited the injured in the hospital.

"It's terrible," he said, as both Christians and Muslims were wounded in the attack. Many of the injured had been released by the end of the day, according to reports.

Reports said Aug. 2 that a nun and two priests were among those injured.

"We hope this is the last act of violence," Sako said.

The bombing and planned attacks caused a great deal of sorrow because it happened just after the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, "a holy time of fasting and prayer and conversion," Sako told the Rome-based AsiaNews Aug. 2.

"Christians are sad and in shock" because such a sacred place and innocent people were targeted, he said.

"We are shocked because Christians play no role in the political games" in Kirkuk — an oil-rich city rife with tensions between ethnic Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds.

"We are always for what is good, for dialogue, and we have good relations with everyone," he added.

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