As the family of Iraqi Christians sat down for dinner, a group of gunmen forced their way into the house. “Ten or 12 men swarmed into my home like bees,” the grandmother of the family told The Times. “They ordered us to stand up and raise our hands.
“They put a bomb in the living room ... and forced us outside. About 10 minutes later the house was blown up.”
This story of violence against Christians is one of many to emerge over the past fortnight from Mosul, a flashpoint city in northern Iraq. At least 13 Christians have been killed in that period and fear of further attacks has prompted 1,200 families to flee to nearby villages, convents, monasteries and even farther afield to Iraq's Kurdish region to the north or to Baghdad in the south.
The Government has pledged to curb the violence, sending 2,500 additional police to the city — already the focus of a security operation in May that has so far failed to bring results. The extra forces were designed to assure the Christians of the Government’s commitment to their security and protection, said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Government’s representative.
Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the problem. Tuesday the U.N. expressed concern at the recent violence against Mosul’s Christian community.
Some Christians blame Al Qaeda for the attacks while others speculate that Kurdish elements might be involved as part of a political ploy to coerce minority sects into supporting Kurdish parties before forthcoming provincial elections. This allegation is strongly denied by the Kurdish authorities.