Thirty-four Iraqi Christians and a Muslim guard who were recently wounded in an al Qaeda attack on a church in Baghdad have arrived in France for medical treatment.
They were all suffering from bullet or grenade injuries after the rescue shootout which followed their seizure by gunmen over a week ago.
They were accompanied by relatives who have all been offered temporary asylum.
French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said:
“This show of solidarity does not mean France and Europe call for Christian Iraqis to leave their country. What they wish and what we want to do is to help them live in peace and feel secure in their homeland.”
France plans to send a second evacuation flight to bring out a further 93 Christians.
Al-Qaeda has declared Christians in Iraq as a legitimate target.
It’s estimated that more than a million people have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein.