Three Christmas Day bomb attacks, two at a market in a Christian sector of Baghdad and a third at a market near a church, killed at least 37 people and injured scores more. There is little solid information, however, to indicate that Christians were targeted or killed.
What was reported
Two bombs exploded Wednesday in an outdoor market in a Christian section of Dora, a mostly Sunni sector of southern Baghdad. The blasts killed 11 and wounded 21, according to the Associated Press, which cited a police officer.
Soon afterward, a car bomb exploded at a market near St. John Catholic Church, also in Dora, as worshipers were leaving a Christmas mass. News reports said the blast killed at least 26 people, and wounded a further 38.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Were Christians targeted?
Early news reports indicated Christians had been targeted. According toAgence France-Presse:
“The attack targeted the church, and most of the martyrs are Christians,” a police colonel told AFP. “The attack happened when worshippers were leaving the church” after a service.”
Sources soon backed away from that claim, however. AFP initially cited an Iraq Interior Ministry spokesman, Saad Maan, as saying the car bomb targeted St. John church. Later, however, Maan reversed course:
” ‘The attack was against a . . . market and not a church,’ Maan said, adding that ‘the targeted area is a mix of Muslims and Christians.’ ”
According to the Associated Press:
“The Iraq-based leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Sako, said the parked car bomb exploded after Christmas Mass and that none of the worshippers were hurt. Sako said he didn’t believe the church was the target.”
On Dec. 26, a spokesman for Chaldean Patriarchate said reports that the third explosion killed Christians were false:
Fr. Albert Hisham said “the explosion happened… in the vicinity of the Souk [market] of the Assyrians, not far from the police station, and therefore a distance from the church… We invite the media to be completely certain of the facts before rushing to publication, in order to avoid spreading fear”.
In this BBC video, Rafid Jabboori of the BBC’s Arabic Service explains that Christians in the Dora region have been the target of violence for several years: