MOSUL: Bombs hit a church and a convent in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday, causing severe damage but no casualties, religious leaders said.
One of the attacks hit the St. Theresa Convent of Dominican Nuns in the western Mosul Jadida (New Mosul) district, the chief representative of the Dominican order in Iraq, Father Yousif Thomas Mirkis, told AFP.
‘These attacks are aimed at forcing Christians to leave the country,’ he said noting that the bomb had been placed inside the convent grounds. The second bomb struck the Church of St. Ephrem in the same district, causing major damage to the church building, Patriarchal Vicar George Basman said. ‘It caused major damage and we cannot pray there,’ he said, adding: ‘There were no casualties because it was a working day.’Thousands of Christians fled Mosul last year because of violence that claimed the lives of 40 people from the community.
A report this month by Human Rights Watch said minority groups in northern Iraq, including Christians, have fallen victim to a struggle between Arabs and Kurds for control of a raft of disputed districts.
The Kurds have long laid claim to northern districts which they say had historical Kurdish majorities, including parts of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, the whole of the oil province of Kirkuk, and parts of Diyala and Salaheddin. Since the US-led invasion of 2003, hundreds of Iraqi Christians have been killed and several churches attacked.
Around 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq at the time of the invasion, but their number has since shrunk by a third or more as members of the community have fled abroad, according to Christian leaders. Although violence has dropped dramatically across Iraq compared to last year, attacks remain common in Mosul and the capital Baghdad.
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