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Iraq attacks hit Christian sites
From The Australian
A SPATE of attacks in Iraq killed five people and struck a church and a convent overnight, with one bomb at a busy market claiming two lives as shoppers stocked up for a Muslim feast and holiday. In the deadliest incident, two home-made bombs exploded in the market in Mussayib, 60km south of Baghdad, killing three men and wounding 28, including two women and two children.
In the restive northern city of Mosul, meanwhile, a church and a convent were struck by bombings, causing severe damage to both but leaving no casualties, religious leaders said.
One of the attacks hit the St Theresa Convent of Dominican Nuns in the western Jadida (New Mosul) district, according to Father Yousif Thomas Mirkis, chief representative of the Dominican order in Iraq.
"These attacks are aimed at forcing Christians to leave the country," he said, noting that the bomb had been placed inside the convent grounds and caused damage to its building.
Another bombing struck the Church of St Ephrem in the same Mosul district, causing major damage to the Chaldean church building, said Patriarchal Vicar George Basman.
"We cannot pray there," he said, referring to the damage. "There were no casualties because it was a working day."
Thousands of Christians fled Mosul, 350km north of Baghdad, last year because of violence that claimed the lives of 40 people from the community.
Since the invasion in 2003, hundreds of Christians have been killed and several Iraqi churches attacked.
A report this month by Human Rights Watch said minority groups in the north of the country, including Christians, have fallen victim to a struggle between Arabs and Kurds for control in several disputed districts.