Iraq's Christians pray for peace in Baghdad

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Iraq's Christians pray for peace in Baghdad

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Iraq’s Christian community has attended Christmas mass in spite of wide security concerns.

Since the 2003 US-led invasion Christians have become a prime target for extremists across Iraq.

Thousands have been forced to flee Baghdad and other cities following a campaign of threats and attacks.

In Baghdad one Christian worshipper said: ‘‘Because of the security situation all the Christians left to the north. During last Christmas the church was full, but now it is not, since only a few Christians stayed behind.”

This month several attacks have seen five Christians killed and some 45 injured.

On Wednesday, a wooden cart exploded inside a garage behind an historic church in the northern city of Mosul, killing two people and wounding five.

Despite security improvements, the latest threats of bloodshed have cast a shadow over Iraq’s religious minority during the festive period.

Iraq’s Christian community number around 750,000 and many have said they plan to curtail celebrations this year out of fear of attacks.

Meanwhile, police say at least 23 people, mostly shi’ite Muslims, died across Iraq on Thursday after a series of bomb blasts.