BAGHDAD – Iraqi Christians buried their dead on Friday after a string of apparently coordinated attacks using bombs and rockets hit their dwindling community, killing two people and injuring 13 others.
At least four Christian homes in Baghdad were hit Thursday night in the first string of attacks since al-Qaida-linked militants last week renewed their threats of violence against Christians in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians have been living in heightened fear since militants carried out a bloody siege of a Baghdad church that killed 68 worshippers in October and al-Qaida announced it was waging a concentrated campaign against their community. In the face of the threats, many in the community toned down Christmas celebrations, canceling evening Mass.
Father Mukhlis, a priest at Our Lady of Salvation church, the target of the October siege, said as many as 12 violent incidents occurred against Christian homes across the capital Thursday night.
Police officials confirmed seven attacks against Christian homes. In the deadliest attack, two people were killed when a bomb exploded outside a Christian family's house in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of al-Gahdir. Three people were injured in blast, police and hospital officials said.
Six other people were wounded in four separate bombings across the capital on Thursday night, police said. A sounds grenade that landed inside a Christian house in Dora district in southern Baghdad, injured three others.
One person was wounded when a rocket hit a Christian home in downtown Baghdad Thursday evening, police said Friday.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but such attacks have generally been the work of Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida.
Deputy interior minister, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abu Ragif, blamed Thursday's attacks on "terrorists who expressed hatred of Iraq in general and of the Christians in particular," Ragif said. The assailants' aim was to "prevent our Christian brothers to celebrate the New Year," he added.
Associated Press Writers Bushra Juhi and Saad Abdul-Kadir contributed to this report.