More than 40 people were killed or injured in renewed attacks on Christians in Baghdad on Sunday.
Shortly after 7:00 on Sunday evening, a car bomb exploded in front of the gates of St. Mary’s Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad. The explosion occurred just as churchgoers left Mass.
Seven were killed and around 30 were injured, with 18 requiring hospital treatment, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports.
Bombs reportedly went off at three other Baghdad churches around 4:30 pm, two of which were St. George’s Church in the Al-Ghadier section and St. Joseph’s Church in the Al-Shurta section.
According to ACN, which received its information from a priest working in the Iraqi capital, eight people were wounded in the attacks.
More than 200,000 have fled Iraq because of persecution and violence since the American-led invasion. Upwards of 50,000 have sought refuge in the north of Iraq.
Continued emigration is also depleting the numbers of Iraqi Christians, who have resided in the country since the early centuries of Christianity. While Christians in Iraq numbered about one million in 2003, there are fewer than 400,000 today.
Archbishop of Baghdad Jean Sleiman has said that “very real persecution” is a huge threat for Christians in some areas.
ACN has provided food and medical aid for Iraqi refugees in other Middle Eastern countries. The international pastoral charity has also supported religious sisters who distribute basic food parcels to displaced and impoverished families in the north of Iraq.