On Oct. 31, Islamic extremists attacked worshipers at the Syrian Catholic Church
of Baghdad, killing 59 Christians and severely injuring more than 80 others,
according to VOM sources.
Several gunmen armed with automatic weapons and explosives entered the church
during a worship service and opened fire on the worshipers. Two priests were
among those killed in the attack. “[This church was attacked] because they are
very active, especially among the youth and community,” VOM contacts said. “This
church works closely with the United Bible Society and VOM by distributing
Bibles and Action Packs in Iraq. This is the second time this church has been
targeted; in 2004 it was hit with a car bomb.”
A militant organization called the Islamic State of Iraq, which has links to
al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to
Compass Direct News.
Following the attack, sources told VOM that churches throughout the city had
received death-threat letters, warning them to stop their Christian activities
or face similar consequences. The threats have caused many churches to cancel
VOM contacts reported that on Nov. 2, 16 bombs exploded in Baghdad within an
hour, killing 100 people and injuring 380.
This violent attack is the latest in a series of attacks on Iraqi Christians
in recent years. In October 2008, more than a dozen Christians were killed in
Mosul during a two-week period, and more than 2,000 families fled the city. The
Christian community in Iraq is estimated at only 1.6 percent of Iraq’s population
of about 29 million people, or about 464,000. Since 2003, Christian leaders,
churches and businesses in Iraq have been frequent targets of attack by Islamic
extremists. As a result, many believers have fled.
The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to pray for
Iraqi Christians, especially for the families of those killed and injured in
the Oct. 31 attack. Ask God to comfort and minister to them during this
difficult time. Pray that in the aftermath of this brutal violence, Iraqi
Christians will keep their eyes on Jesus, persevere in faith, and not grow
weary or lose heart. Pray for peace and stability in Iraq.