MOSUL, Iraq – Militants bombed two churches Tuesday in Mosul (search), wounding three people in a coordinated attack apparently aimed at stirring trouble between religious groups in this ethnically diverse northern city.
Deputy provincial governor Khasro Gouran said one blast struck a church about 2:30 p.m. in eastern Mosul's Wihda neighborhood, wounding three people.
An hour later, gunmen stormed a church in western Mosul, ordering a handful of people outside before bombing it, Gouran said. There were no casualties.
The religious denominations of the churches were not immediately clear.
Islamic militants have regularly targeted different sectors of Iraq's multiethnic population, including the minority Christians, in a bid to disrupt the U.S.-led reconstruction of the war-scarred country.
In August, four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were blown up in a coordinated series of car bombings, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens more in the first significant strike against Iraq's minority Christians since the U.S. invasion began last year.
One person was killed and 11 injured in the August bombing in Mosul, where a minority Christian community has for long lived in harmony with the city's Sunni Arab majority, and many say they still do. Any hostility toward Christians was mostly kept in check under the toppled dictator, Saddam Hussein, who didn't allow militant Islamists to gain clout.
But Iraq's community of 750,000 Christians has grown increasingly anxious at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism since Saddam's ouster, and hundreds have fled to neighboring Jordan and Syria.
Some of Iraq's most feared Islamic militant terror networks, such as the Ansar al-Sunnah Army (search) and Al Qaeda in Iraq (search), have claimed responsibility for recent attacks in Mosul, the scene of a wave of violence targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces and Kurds. Senior Muslim leaders have condemned the violence, trying to quell Christian fears they were being routed from the country.