Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter church blast wounds four in Baghdad

Residents watch a play during Easter at the Sacred Heart Catholic church in Baghdad April 24, 2011. A roadside bomb exploded near an entrance of the Sacred Heart Catholic church in Baghdad on Sunday after the mass, wounding two police officers and two civilians, an Interior Ministry source said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BAGHDAD - A ROADSIDE bomb explosion wounded four people, including two policemen, near a small church in the Iraqi capital on Easter Sunday, medical and security officials said.

The blast went off close to the entrance of the Sacred Heart church, which is surrounded by concrete blast walls, near Tahriart Square in the centre of Baghdad. Two passing civilians and two policemen were wounded, an interior ministry official said.

The church was empty at the time as Easter services were held earlier in the day, the building's security guards said. Security officers at the blast site, while barring reporters from entering the church or from freely taking pictures, confirmed the casualty toll.

A pick-up truck belonging to federal police and a civilian sedan were badly damaged by the blast, an AFP reporter said. Shattered glass was also scattered across the road in front of the church, which was briefly closed off as forensics teams analysed the scene and the damaged vehicles were towed away.

The number of Iraqi Christians has dwindled from an estimated between 800,000 - 1.2 million prior to the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein to about 400,000 today.

Most of them live in Baghdad, the area surrounding the northern city of Mosul, and parts of the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of Iraq. 
-- AFP

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