.- Continuing a trend of attacks on Christian buildings, two car bombs exploded outside churches on Wednesday in the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk.
The attacks, which took place within two minutes of each other, damaged buildings, cars and surrounding houses but caused no injuries, Agence France Presse reports.
Brigadier General Burhan Habib Tayib, head of city police in Kirkuk, said that the first car bomb exploded outside the Chaldean Christian Cathedral of Kirkuk in the city center around 4:40 pm local time. The second attack took place outside the Assyrian Christian Maar Afram church less than a mile away.
"A lot of material damage was caused," said Tayib. "Cars and surrounding houses and the glass and walls of the churches all suffered damage."
Similar attacks on churches have also taken place recently. On Sunday a car bomb attack on a monastery in the northern Iraq city of Mosul wounded four people, while six other attacks on Christian buildings also took place elsewhere in Mosul and Baghdad.
On Tuesday Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the Vatican's ambassador to Iraq, Monsignor Francis Assisi Chullikatt, that the government was committed to ensuring the safety of Christians. He also noted that other religious groups, including Muslims, were being targeted for attack.
“Christians and Muslims are united in the face of terrorists and outlaws,” Maliki said.
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday expressed concern for Iraqi Christians in an annual speech to Vatican diplomats. Iraq “urgently needed” reconciliation, he said.