Iraq: Thirteen injured in bomb blast outside church building

'A car blast outside a Syrian church in Kirkuk on 2 August left thirteen people wounded and seriously damaged nearby houses in one of the city's oldest quarters.

The bomb destroyed one of the church's walls, leaving the church's interior covered with broken glass, rubble and dust. On the same day police also located and disarmed two more car bombs parked outside churches in the city, according to local sources.

The following day, all but one of those wounded – an elderly man who was seriously injured – were reportedly released from the hospital. The Rev. Imad Yalda, a parish priest who was in the church building at the time of the blast, was also slightly wounded.

No terrorist or extremist group has so far taken responsibility for the attack, which occurred on the second day of the month-long Muslim fasting period of Ramadan.

The archbishop of Kirkuk, Monsignor Louis Sako, said the perpetrators of the violence are trying to create an atmosphere of confusion by attacking Christians during the holy month of Ramadan. "They are using this to shock people," said Sako. "They are getting the attention of politicians in Kirkuk and in Iraq and saying, ‘We are here and powerful, and we can do whatever we want.'"

A local pastor who requested anonymity said such attacks have become a normal part of life for Christians in Iraq. "This has become ordinary for us, and we expect that any minute something will happen here. When you are living in this situation, you are used to accept what is happening."

Kirkuk's Christian leaders said they fear more Christians will decide to migrate abroad after this attack. Yet many are still determined to remain in Iraq. "We continue to witness to Jesus Christ and our Christian values; we are not afraid," said Sako.

Source: Compass Direct News

Please pray:

1. For the estimated 350,000 Christians who remain in Iraq. Pray for their protection and for wisdom, strength and courage

2. For the safety of the 10,000 Christians in Kirkuk, where there have been at least 45 abductions since the start of the year

3. A Baghdad court has found four men guilty of planning the attack on Our Lady of Salvation church last October in which 58 people died. They have one month to appeal.
Pray that justice will be done.'

[SOURCE: Open Doors, UK]