14 dead as Iraqi militants target Catholic church
Monday 01 November 2010
At least seven hostages and seven members of the Iraqi security forces were killed when Islamic militants took 120 people hostage in a Catholic church. A four-hour siege was ended when security forces stormed the church in Baghdad while the terrorists were still on the telephone to the authorities demanding the release of prisoners.
Five or more of the militants, who are believed to be linked to an al-Qa'ida group based in Iraq, were killed when security forces ended the stand-off. The siege had started when the terrorists ran into the church after attacking the Iraqi stock exchange with guns and grenades. An estimated 30 hostages, including a priest and a nun, were injured. Worshippers had been listening to a Bible reading when the militants took over the church.
Marzina Matti Yalda was inside when the attack started and said: "As we went outside the hall to see what was happening, gunmen stormed the main gate and they started to shoot at us. Many people fell down, including a priest, while some of us ran inside and took shelter in a locked room as we waited for the security forces to arrive."
Iraqi Christians have been frequent targets for insurgents and many have fled the country since 2003. There are now 870,000 Christians, most of them Catholics, living in Iraq today.
Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Bloom, of the US Army, said at the militants wore suicide vests and that least 19 people died, but some Iraqi sources put the death toll at up to 37. Baghdad military spokesman Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi said security forces killed eight attackers.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official said the insurgents had demanded the release of women prisoners linked to al-Qa'ida in Iraq, including an Egyptian woman. Al-Baghdadia television station said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who demanded the release of all al-Qa'ida members held in Iraq and Egypt. The caller said the attackers belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq.
A message later posted on the group's website claimed it would "exterminate Iraqi Christians" if Muslim women were not freed within 48 hours from ministries and churches run by the Christian Coptic church in Egypt.
Our Lady of Salvation, one of Baghdad's largest churches, was one of five churches in Baghdad and Mosul hit in co-ordinated attacks in August 2004 in which 12 people were killed.
South Korea ferry passengers who were told to stay put 'got trapped' aboard sinking ship
Are beards attractive? Ryan Gosling says yes, but science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge and find out who's right
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness 'unqualified' to testify
Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness contradicts athlete's version in new blow for defence team
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
- 5 Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...