Baghdad Hostage Drama Ends in Church Bloodbath
At least 58 people, including worshippers, security forces and hostage takers, were killed after a hostage siege in a Catholic church in Baghdad on Sunday evening. During the evening Mass, several gunmen entered the building. After four hours, security forces stormed the church and ended the hostage situation. There were many deaths, including women and children; about 75 were wounded in the attack.
An Open Doors worker from Baghdad requests prayer for the affected Christians. He reports that two pastors were killed in the church. A third pastor, he states, was brought to the hospital and died because of his injuries. “I am very confused and shocked; two of the pastors were my friends,” he said. Two other pastors, Father Saad Abdal Tha’ir and Father Waseem Tabeeh, were beaten when they tried to reason with the terrorists. When negotiations failed, Iraqi security forces stormed the church. Explosions and shooting followed.
The BBC reports militants contacted the authorities by mobile phone and demanded the release of Al-Qaeda prisoners and a number of Muslim women they insisted were being held prisoner by the Coptic Church in Egypt. In the past few years, Christians from Baghdad and other cities have encountered violence and attacks. In May 2010, a bomb attack targeted three buses with Christian students on their way to Mosul. Previously in February, there was a series of killings of Christians in Mosul and hundreds of Christian families fled the violent city. Iraq is ranked No. 17 on the Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries which are the worst persecutors of Christians.
Lord of heaven and earth, you know of the violence in Iraq; You hear the cries of Your people there. We pray for peace in this war-torn country. We ask You to comfort those who have lost their beloved ones and to bring spiritual healing to the survivors of this brutal act.
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