Iraq Tightens Security Around Churches, Christian Towns After Wave of Attacks

July 14, 2009

Author: Nada Bakri

Source: The Washington Post

Iraqi authorities on Monday tightened security around churches across Baghdad and in two Christian towns in the northern province of Nineveh, amid fears that a series of attacks against them could escalate.

The security measures were imposed a day after bombings in and around churches in Baghdad killed four people and wounded many others. One of the bombs went off as worshipers were leaving Mass in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood.

An explosion erupted Monday near a church in a Christian neighborhood in Mosul, which remains Iraq's most dangerous city. Sunni insurgents are believed to have regrouped there after being largely defeated in Baghdad and other areas.

"These attacks aim to spark strife again between different Iraqi communities," said Ali al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman. "As with previous attempts, they did not succeed."

Authorities in Nineveh imposed a ban on vehicles in Tilkaif and Hamdaniyah, two mostly Christian towns, out of concern about car bombings.

"There is fear among Christians," said Youssef Bahgat, a 21-year-old guard outside Evangelical Christian Union Church in the mostly Christian Sinai neighborhood in Baghdad.