Arameans of Iraq.

 

Arabic Translations:

  الترجمات العربية

 

21-1-2013: Iraq: Aramean teacher and student killed in Mosul

 

22-2-2012: Iraq: We have left behind a "sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq"

 

26-10-2011: “Liberation” Iraq: Extermination Aramean Christians. “Liberation” Egypt: burning churches and slaughtering of Coptic Christians

 

19-8-2011: Iraq and Arameans: The usual ritual, blowing up their churches

 

7-6-2011: The uproar in the Middle-East and the future of the Aramean nation

 

29-4-2011: “Liberation” of Iraq: Extermination of Arameans of Iraq “Liberation” of Syria…..?????..

 

23-11-2010: Aramean blood continue to flow in Iraq: Two Aramean brothers killed in Mosul

 

11-11-2010: An Aramean spiritual leader makes a dramatic appeal: Leave Iraq

 

1-11-2010: Bloodbath among the Arameans of Baghdad: Something like this never happened

 

5-10-2010: Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns in strong words the terrorist attack on the Aramean Catholic church in Baghdad

 

17-5-2010: Iraq: The 19 years old Aramean girl Sandy Shabib Hadi Zahra succumbs to her injuries

 

10-3-2010: Exodus Arameans from Mosul: According to recent UN report more than 5000 Arameans have left Mosul

 

6-3-2010: Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch condemns the attacks on the Aramean Christians of Mosul

 

3-3-2010: Exodus of the Arameans of Mosul continues undiminished: According to UN report already 720 Aramean families (4320 people) have left Mosul

 

1-3-2010: Peaceful demonstration on Sunday 28th of February 2010 by the Aramean Orthodox and Catholics in Baghdeda (Qaraqosh), northern Iraq

 

27-2-2010: Council of Churches in Iraq appeals to the government to protect the Aramean people in Mosul, Iraq

 

26-2-2010: The Arameans of Mosul: A new Exodus and Ethnic cleansing is going on

 

18-2-2010: The Arameans of Iraq again victim of killings and bloodbaths:

 

24-12-2009: A Christmas “message” for the Arameans of Mosul: Four Aramean Churches attacked and one Aramean killed

 

26-10-2009: Exactly one month and one day after the dramatic appeal of Iraqi President to the United Nations, two car bombs were detonated in the neighborhood of the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq

 

1-9-2009: Arameans of Iraq: The East- Aramean Chaldean bishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk sounds the alarm bell

 

29-8-2009: Totally unfounded or has it a grain of truth in it? Greater- Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the Arameans of Mosul and surroundings in Iraq

 

14-7-2009: The Special UN envoy to Iraq, Mr. Ad Melkert, wants extra protection for the Aramean Christians in Iraq

 

13-7-2009: Seven Indigenous Aramean Churches in Baghdad (Iraq) attacked by car bombs

 

4-5-2009: Aramean blood continues to flow in Iraq…

 

15-11-2008: Iraq: The bloodshed of Aramean people and bombardment of churches continues undiminished

 

27-10-2008: Attempt of ethnic cleansing Mosul: The Aramean Srebrinica. Who is responsible and why?

 

14-10-2008: Aramean indigenous nation of Iraq: Removal of article 50, exclusion, killings, persecutions, displacements and ethnic cleansing in Mosul erea

 

2-9-2008: Again two Arameans killed in Iraq

 

Killing of Priest Yusuf Adel Abudi

4-5-2008: Again a Aramean spiritual leader is killed in Iraq. This time: The West- Aramean Syrian orthodox priest Yusuf Adel Abudi in Bagdad

 

11-4-2008: Through all the misery: Miracles happens in Iraq

 

6-4-2008: Funeral of the West- Aramean Syrian Orthodox Priest Yusuf Adel Abudi

 

Killing of Mgr. Faraj Raho

1-3-2008: East- Aramean Chaldean bishop of Mosul, Mgr. Paulus Faraj Raho was abducted on 29-2-2008 in Mosul.

 

13-3-2008: The East- Aramean Chaldean bishop Paulus Faraj Raho killed in Mosul

 

14-3-2008: Friday 14-3-2008: Funeral of Mgr. Faraj Raho in St. Addai Church in Karemlesh

 

16-3-2008: Mgr. Paulus Faraj Raho: A Great Spiritual Leader and a Worthy Sheppard in Charge of Jesus Christ

 

23-2-2008: Aramean centre for art and culture has been opened in Ankawa, northern Iraq

 

7-1-2008: Aramean Churches and institutions in Iraq under Attack

 

22-8-2007: AINA: The international lie- and hate machine and the cause of killing, persecution and decline of the Arameans of Iraq

 

Killing of Priest Ragied Aziz Gannie

3-6-2007: East- Aramean Chaldean priest Ragied Aziz Gannie brutally murdered in Mosul along with three deacons by Muslim extremists

 

25-5-2007: Terror against Arameans (including "Assyrians" and Chaldeans) of Iraq. Ethnic cleansing of the Indigenous people of Iraq

 

Killing of Priest Paulus Iskandar

12-10-2006: Aramean priest Iskandar beheaded in Mosul (Iraq)

 

Killing of Isoh Majeed Hadaya

22-11-2006: The West- Aramean Isoh Majeed Hadaya killed by terrorists in Iraq

 

 

Aramean people: Aramean people (not to be confused with ‘Armenians’) speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Abraham, Moses and Jesus. They are the indigenous people of what was called in ancient times Aram- Nahrin, in our days it is called ‘Mesopotamia’.

Some Arameans today identify themselves with “Assyrians”, because of the spiritual colonial hate generating activities of the Western missionaries and diplomats in the Middle-East in 16th and 19th centuries. Other Arameans became known as “Chaldeans”. However all of them are Arameans.


 

Bloodbath among the Arameans of Baghdad: Something like this never happened

Dutch Version

 

Baghdad (Iraq)- In a phone conversation on Monday November 1, 2010 a Aramean clergy in Baghdad summarized the situation of the attack on the West- Aramean Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad as follows, “Since the invasion of Americans in 2003 in Iraq, something like this has not happened. This is the worst of all attacks on our churches and people. More than 50 people are killed, among them two priests of the church and 70 people are injured. The church itself is totally destroyed. The buildings around it heavily damaged.”

 

On Sunday 31st of October 2010 heavy armed gunmen stormed the West- Aramean Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad and took 120 Aramean men, women and children hostage. After exchange of fire between the terrorists and Iraqi security forces, more than 52 people died an 70 injured. Among the deaths are the two priests of the Aramean Church, hostages, attackers, and members of Iraqi police and security forces. The church itself is completely destroyed.

 

This is the such-and-such cowardice attack on the peaceful minded Arameans of Iraq to completely clean the country of its original inhabitants. The Arameans do not consider anyone as their enemy, they want to live in peace with others and wish to contributed to the country building. Unfortunately, this policy of peaceful cooperation is answered with burning their churches, raping of their women and daughters and killing of their clergy by the forces of intolerance and fanaticism.

 

Worried

 

The Arameans of Aram-Naharaim Organization is extremely worried about the situation of the Arameans of Iraq. The Aramean nation of Iraq, also made known as “Assyrians” in some media, find themselves in very fragile situation. The Arameans are marginalized and threatened with ethnic cleansing. Due to undiminished persecutions, killings, plundering and attacks, many Arameans have already left Iraq.

 

The Aram-Naharaim Organization raised its voice in several letters and reports to the international organizations and governments to ask for their attention to the fragile situation of the Aramean nation of Iraq. We mention few examples:

 

23-3-2010: Letter to the United Nations on the situation of the Arameans of Iraq:

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Aramean_People_Iraq_UN_Help_23_3_2010.htm

31-10-2008: Letter to the Secretary General of the UN:

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Aramean_Organisations_Letter_UN_31_10_2008.htm

6-5-2008: Letter to the Secretary General of the UN:

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/ArameansOrganisations_UN_Iraq_Help_10_5_2008.htm

22-4-2008: Letter to the government of Iraq:

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/ArameanOrganisations_Protection_leaders_Iraq_25_4_2008.htm

29-8-2007: Letter to the government of Iraq:

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Letter_Iraqi_Government_29_8_2007.htm

 

Because of their fragile position combined with lack of adequately functioning security apparatus, the Arameans are an easy target for powers who intend to cleanse Iraq of its original inhabitants who have been present in this part of the world since thousands of years.

 

Before the war of 2003, there were around 800.000 Arameans in Iraq. Probably more than half of them have left the country. The attacks on their churches and leaders chased the Arameans out of Iraq. We mention few examples:

West- Aramean Syrian Orthodox priest Paulus Iskandar killed in Mosul on 12-10-2006 by terrorists,

The West- Aramean Isoh Majeed Hadaya killed by terrorists in Iraq 22-11-2006

East- Aramean Chaldean priest Ragied Aziz Gannie brutally murdered in Mosul along with three deacons by Muslim extremists on 3-6-2007.

East- Aramean Chaldean bishop of Mosul, Mgr. Paulus Faraj Raho was abducted on 29-2-2008 in Mosul. His body was found on 13-3-2008 in Mosul and on 14-3-2008 he was buried in St. Addai Church in Karemlesh.

West- Aramean Syrian Orthodox priest Yusuf Adel Abud was killed on 5-4-2008 by terrorists in Baghdad and was buried on 6-4-2008 in the St. Paul and St. Cathedral in Baghdad.

 

There are in Iraq following Aramean denominations :

  • - West- Aramean Syrian Orthodox

  • - West- Aramean Syrian Catholics

  • - East- Aramean Nestorian Chaldeans

  • - East- Aramean Nestorian "Assyrians". The "Assyrians" are divided among themselves as follows: The Apostolic Assyrian Catholic church of the East (Since 1976, the name "Catholic" has no relation with Rome) and the Ancient Church of the East (since 1968).

The terms “East- “ and “West- Arameans” go back to the time of early Christianity where the Aramean indigenous nation was geographically termed as such. Roughly speaking the Euphrates River was the border. Those Arameans living Eastern of Euphrates, thus living in Persia, were termed “East- Arameans” and those living Western of Euphrates, thus in Roman Empire, were called “Western- Arameans”.

The designations “Chaldeans” and “Assyrians” for the eastern Arameans go back to the Western colonial activities of the 16th (France + Catholic missionaries) and 19th (Great Britain + Anglican missionaries) centuries. The ecclesiastical and political Western powers closely worked together and setup camps in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran where the Aramean children were “educated” through which they were completely uprooted from their Aramean origin. They thereby planted a horrible form of fanaticism in their hearts which caused them to display an immense aversion to their Aramean origin.

 

In the year 1553 the Western Catholic missionaries together with France brainwashed a part of the East- Aramean clergy by means of bribery to call themselves “Chaldeans” with the result that the Aramaic language became known as “Chaldean” language and a part of the Aramean nation became known as “Chaldean” nation in some parts of the Western literature, the first attack on the Aramean heritage.

 

As a result of mutual hatred and competition between the Western Catholics and Protestants, in the late 19th century the same process was repeated, this time by the Anglican missionaries and Great Britain, and the other part of the East- Aramean “Nestorian” tribes of Hakkari (bordering Turkey and Iraq) and Urmia (Iran) to call themselves "Assyrians"- a term which was used purely geographically and only applied to the "Nestorians". The result was that Aramaic became known as “Assyrian” language and the Aramean nation as the “Assyrian” nation- this was the second and more severe attack on the Aramean heritage- a kind of spiritual genocide.

 

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Related articles:

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Arameans_Iraq_Sandy_Shabib_Hadi_Zahra_17_5_2010.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Arameans_Mosul_Exodus_More_Than5000_10_3_2010.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Aramean-Christians_Mosul_Killed_18_2_2010.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Aramean_Churches_Mosul_Attack_24_12_2009.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/President_Iraq_Appeal_UN_26_10_2009.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Arameans_Iraq_Louis_Sako_AlarmBell_1_9_2009.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Great-Israel_Ethnic_cleansing_Iraq_Arameans_29_8_2009.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.info/English/Aramean_Churches_Baghdad_BombAttack_13_7_2009.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Aramean_Blood_Iraq_Continues_Flow_4_5_2009.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Attack_Aramean_Churches_Iraq_7_1_2008.htm

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Mosul_Aramean_Srebrinica_27_10_2008.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Miracles_In_Iraq_11_4_2008.htm

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Arameans_Killed_In_Mosul_2_9_2008.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Arameans_Iraq_killing_Mosul_Qaraqosh_15_11_2008.htm

http://www.iraqichristians.org/English/Aramean_Organisations_Letter_UN_31_10_2008.htm

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Killings_Ethnic_Cleansing_Arameans_Iraq_14_10_2008.htm

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Indigenous_2009.htm

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Arameans_In_The_Media_Misinformation_8_6_2009.htm

http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Aramean_Spiritual_Genocide.htm

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****************Articles in the media**************


 

Hostages die in Iraq church raid

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/11/201011134724982931.html

Last Modified: 01 Nov 2010 14:52

 

Al-Qaeda-linked group claims responsibility for attack on Baghdad church that resulted in deaths of 58 people.

 

An al-Qaeda-linked group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Catholic church in the Iraqi capital, which resulted in the deaths of 58 people.

 

The Reuters news agency reported the death toll on Monday, a day after attackers stormed the Our Lady of Salvation church in the Karrada neighbourhood of central Baghdad.

 

The assailants took more than 100 people hostage in a standoff that ended after police stormed the church two hours later. At least 25 of those killed were hostages.

 

"Right from the very beginning their phone calls were fully intercepted and we strongly believe there were non-Iraqi people among the group. We will investigate their nationalities," Abdul Qader al-Obeidi, the Iraqi defence minister, said.

 

The kidnappers were demanding the release of al-Qaeda prisoners from Iraqi and Egyptian jails, Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reported from Baghdad.

 

Al-Qaeda affiliate

 

Al-Baghdadiya television station said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who demanded the release of all al-Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

 

That person spoke classical Arabic, "perhaps an attempt to conceal his identity," Rageh said.

 

The Islamic State of Iraq, a group which is linked to al-Qaeda, later claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted online after the incident.

 

The group alleged that female Muslims were being held against their will in Coptic Christian monasteries in Egypt.

 

"[There is] some sort of Egyptian involvement there, but authorities are not confirming that," our correspondent reported.

 

Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, a Baghdad security spokesman, told the Reuters news agency on Sunday that the operation "has finished successfully".

 

Sunday's attack began with at least one loud explosion followed by bursts of gunfire. Streets around the church were quickly cordoned off.

 

Earlier the assailants, wearing suicide vests, killed two guards who tried to stop them from raiding the stock exchange building.

 

After battling security forces at the stock exchange, the men fled to the nearby church, where they held the building's construction and cleaning crew hostage inside.

 

Abdullah Hermiz, the head of Christian Endowment, a state body that oversees Iraq's chruches, told the Associated Press news agency that only part of the building was under construction and that Sunday services were being held as usual in another part of the church.

 

"When they were about to leave and heard the shooting outside and because of the scary situation, some ran outside the church while others remained inside," he said.

 

Our correspondent said that according to the US military the attackers were al-Qaeda operatives, based on their "tactics, techniques and procedures".

 

Pope's condemnation

 

Pope Benedict condemned on Monday the attack in remarks to pilgrims gathered to hear his prayer in St Peter's Square for the Catholic All Saints' Day holiday.

 

"I pray for the victims of this senseless violence, made even more ferocious because it struck defenceless people who were gathered in the house of God, which is a house of love and reconciliation," he said.

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Bloom, a US army spokesman, said about 100 people had been in the church when the attackers came in, but some 19 of them managed to escape.

 

"They [Iraqi forces] went into the church and rescued the hostages," Bloom said. "They have control of the church".

 

He said US forces provided air support but did not have soldiers on the ground going into the church. Iraqi Special Forces stormed the church around 9pm.

 

Bloom later told Al Jazeera that the incident was a "robbery gone wrong".

 

"We've seen them resort to robbery to get financed. It has been very challenging for them to get outside financing, so they are resorting to small, petty crimes to try to finance themselves".

 

 


 

Death toll rises to 58 in Iraq church standoff

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/11/01/iraq.violence/index.html

 

November 1, 2010 -- Updated

 

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- The death toll from a hostage standoff at a Catholic church in Baghdad has risen to 58, police officials with the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Monday.

 

Seventy-five others were wounded in the attack by armed gunmen Sunday, the officials said, adding that most of the casualties were women and children. Two priests were also among the dead as well as 17 security officers and five gunmen.

 

The hours-long standoff ended Sunday after Iraqi security forces stormed the Sayidat al-Nejat church. Eight suspects were arrested.

 

"All the marks point out that this incident carries the fingerprints of al Qaeda," Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi said on state television Sunday.

 

He said that most of the hostages were killed or wounded when the kidnappers set off explosives inside the church.

 

At least two of the attackers were wearing explosive vests, which they detonated just minutes before security forces raided the church, the police officials said.

 

The Islamic State of Iraq later claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement posted on a radical Islamic website. The umbrella group includes a number of Sunni extremist organizations and has ties to al Qaeda in Iraq.

 

"The Mujahedeens raided a filthy nest of the nests of polytheism, which has been long taken by the Christians of Iraq as a headquarter for a war against the religion of Islam and they were able by the grace of God and His glory to capture those were gathered in and to take full control of all its entrances," the group said on the website.

 

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he was praying "for the victims of this absurd violence -- all the more ferocious in that it hit defenseless people gathered in the house of the Lord, which is home to reconciliation and love."

 

Survivors of the ordeal said they were about to begin Sunday night services when the gunmen entered the church, according to Martin Chulov, a journalist for the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper who was on the scene. A priest ushered the congregants into a backroom, Chulov reported that survivors said.

 

At one point, one of the gunmen entered the room and threw an unidentified explosive device inside, causing casualties, Chulov said.

 

The U.S. military spokesman said that as many as 120 people were taken hostage.

 

The gunmen seized the hostages after attacking the Baghdad Stock Market in the central part of the Iraqi capital earlier Sunday, police said. Four armed men entered the nearby Sayidat al-Nejat church after clashing with Iraqi security forces trying to repel the stock market attack.

 

Iraq's Interior Ministry told CNN that gunmen attacked the stock market to distract Iraqi security forces who were outside the church to protect it.

 

The gunmen were demanding that the Iraqi government release a number of detainees and prisoners inside Iraqi prisons, saying the Christian hostages would be freed in return, according to the police officials. Iraq's defense minister later said on state television that the kidnappers had demanded the release of a number of prisoners in both Iraq and Egypt.

 

Iraqi security forces sealed off the area surrounding the church, the officials said, and buildings were evacuated of civilians as a precautionary measure. At least 13 hostages, including two children, managed to escape ahead of the rescue operation, police said.

 

The Iraqi authorities ordered the attackers to release the hostages and to turn themselves in, warning that they would storm the church if they do not comply. A few hours passed quietly as military units took up positions outside the church, including several American units, said Chulov.

 

"Then all hell broke loose," he said. A firefight erupted, and Chulov said he heard three to four large explosions. Later, he saw about 20 ambulances race away from the scene.

 

The American military spokesman minimized the role that U.S. troops played in the operation.

 

"The U.S. only provided UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] support with video imagery. As always we have advisers with the ISF [Iraqi security forces] command teams," Bloom said.

 

While the U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially ended earlier this year, some 50,000 American troops are expected to remain in the country until the end of 2011 to train, assist and advise Iraqi troops.

 


 

Iraq official: 52 dead after Catholic church siege

Militants armed with grenades took about 120 Christians hostage

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39945190/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/

 

1 November 2010

 

Fifty-two hostages and police were killed on Sunday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al-Qaida-linked gunmen, a deputy interior minister said.

 

Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said on Monday that 67 people were wounded during the raid of the church in central Baghdad by gunmen demanding the release of al-Qaida prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

 

The death toll was many times higher than that given overnight in the hours after the raid, and only included hostages and police, not attackers.

 

Officials said at least one priest and 10 policemen were among the dead. Many of the wounded were women.

 

Pope Benedict XVI denounced the "ferocious" attack on Monday and called for renewed international efforts to broker peace in the region.

 

The standoff began at dusk Sunday when militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the Iraqi stock exchange and then entered the nearby Our Lady of Deliverance church — one of Baghdad's main Catholic places of worship — taking about 120 Christians hostage.

 

Iraqi forces stormed the church after a tense hours-long standoff, freeing the hostages. It was not immediately clear whether the hostages died at the hands of the attackers or during the rescue.

 

Grenades, gunfire and suicide bombs

 

At least one bomb exploded at the start of the siege. Sporadic gunfire rang out for several hours over the Karrada neighborhood near the heavily fortified Green Zone district where many embassies and government offices are located.

 

U.S. and Iraqi military helicopters thundered overhead as security forces cordoned off the area.

 

A federal police source who declined to be identified said Sunday's rescue operation was extremely difficult.

 

"The attackers were among children, armed with weapons," the source said. "Most of the casualties were killed or wounded when the security forces raided the place."

 

Officials say some of the attackers blew up explosives vests or threw grenades during the raid.

 

Video footage from an American drone that was overhead during the attack showed a black plume of smoke followed by flashes from inside the building before what appears to be soldiers going in. U.S. forces often supply air support to Iraqi forces conducting operations on the ground, feeding them video footage of what American drones see from the air.

 

The casualty information came from police and officials at hospitals where the dead and wounded were taken.

 

There were conflicting accounts about the number of attackers involved in the assault, with Baghdad military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi saying Sunday night that security forces killed eight, while the U.S. military said between five and seven died.

 

Two police officers on the scene, however, say only three attackers were killed and another seven arrested afterwards.

 

"While I was trying to find my way out, in the dark, I walked over bodies," a Christian woman who was one of the hostages told Reuters late on Sunday, asking not to be identified. "There are many bodies there."

 

Iraq's Christian minority has frequently been targeted by militants, with churches bombed and priests assassinated.

 

During a holiday blessing Monday from his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict said he was praying for the victims "of this absurd violence, made more ferocious because it was directed against unarmed people gathered in the house of God."

 

He called for new international and national efforts to end violence. He said he wanted to renew his solidarity with the Christian community in the Middle East and encourage the faithful there to "be strong and safe in hope."

 

"Faced with such brutal episodes of violence which continue to tear apart the people of the Middle East, I want to renew again my heartfelt appeal for peace," Benedict said.

 

Exterminate Iraqi Christians

 

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would "exterminate Iraqi Christians" if Muslim women in Egypt are not freed.

 

It specifically mentioned two women in Egypt that extremists maintain have converted to Islam and are being held against their will in Egypt. The two are wives of priests and are believed to have converted to Islam to leave their husbands since divorce is banned by Egypt's Coptic Church. One woman disappeared in 2004 and another in July.

 

Egypt's Christians had maintained they were kidnapped and staged rallies for their release. Both were later recovered by police, denied any conversions and were then spirited away to distant monasteries.

 

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

 


 

Baghdad church hostage drama ends in bloodbath

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11463544

 

At least 52 people were killed as security forces stormed a Catholic church in Baghdad to free dozens of hostages, said Deputy Interior Minister Maj Gen Hussein Kamal.

 

He suggested six attackers had also died in the fighting, though other sources have said the overall death toll was lower.

 

Pope Benedict XVI has condemned the "absurd... ferocious violence".

 

The gunmen had reportedly demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants.

 

A statement was posted on a militant website allegedly run by the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs, claiming responsibility for the attack.

 

The statement reportedly said Iraqi Christians would be "exterminated" if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed. It specifically mentioned two women in Egypt who radicals believe are being held against their will after converting to Islam.

 

Negotiations abandoned

 

Residents of Baghdad's affluent Karada district, where the attack took place, first heard a loud explosion at about 1700 (1400 GMT) on Sunday, believed to have been a car bomb going off at the scene.

About 100 people were inside Our Lady of Salvation for an evening Mass at the time.

The blast was followed by gunfire as a group of armed men began by attacking the Iraq Stock Exchange building, police said, and then took over the Catholic church just across the road, clashing with guards and killing some of them.

 

It seems the church was the attackers' real target, says the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad.

 

One eyewitness, who was inside the church, said the gunmen "came into the prayer hall and immediately killed the priest". The witness, who declined to give his name, said worshippers were beaten and herded into an inne hall.

 

There was an hours-long stand-off as security forces surrounded the building with helicopters hovering overhead.

 

The militants made contact with the authorities by mobile phone, demanding the release of al-Qaeda prisoners and also of a number of Muslim women they insisted were being held prisoner by the Coptic Church in Egypt.

 

But the discussions got nowhere, our correspondent says, and the security forces stormed the church.

 

Witnesses nearby said they then heard two explosions from inside the church and more shooting. The gunmen reportedly threw grenades and detonated their suicide vests.

 

Maj Gen Hussein Kamal said 52 "martyrs" had died in the fighting, along with six attackers, though a police source earlier said 37 people - worshippers, security forces and attackers - had been killed.

 

The number of wounded are put at between 56 and 62 - many of them women.

 

Pope Benedict XVI denounced the attack as he gave a holiday blessing on Monday. He said two priests had died in the siege, though it was unclear whether both were killed in the initial attempt to take hostages or during the raid by security services.

 

He said he was praying for the victims "of this absurd violence, made more ferocious because it was directed against unarmed people gathered in the house of God".

 

He called for a new effort to end the violence.

 

'Impossible to wait'

 

Iraqi Defence Minister Abdul-Qadr al-Obeidi said security forces approached the building at ground level and from the air.

 

"We took a decision to launch a land offensive, and in addition an airdrop, because it was impossible to wait - the terrorists were planning to kill a large number of our brothers, the Christians who were at Mass," said Mr Obeidi.

 

"So the operation was successfully done. All terrorists were killed. And we now have other suspects in detention."

 

Witnesses say they saw US troops on the ground and US military helicopters hovering above the scene, but the extent of their involvement is not yet clear.

 

Many churches have been bombed in recent years - including Our Lady of Salvation in August 2004 - and priests kidnapped and killed, but there has never been a prolonged hostage situation like this before, our correspondent says.

 

Christians - many from from ancient denominations - have been leaving Iraq in droves since the US-led invasion in 2003, and about 600,000 remain.

 

There have been many attacks on Christians in Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003, but nothing like this.

 

At that time there were estimated to be around one million Christians from several ancient denominations - mainly Assyrian Nestorians, Chaldaeans and Syriacs.

 

Their numbers are believed to have dwindled now to 600,000 or less.

 

Many churches have been damaged by bombs in various parts of the country where Christians live - around Mosul in the north, Baghdad, and even Basra in the south.

 

Christians have also been the victims of targeted killings, while priests and others have been abducted and murdered or ransomed.

 

The exodus of Christian emigrants has continued despite the general improvement in Iraq's security in the past three years.

 

The fear is that the carnage on Sunday night at the church of Our Lady of Salvation may speed up the flow of Christians seeking a better life elsewhere.

 

ATTACKS ON IRAQI CHRISTIANS SINCE 2003

  • Aug 2004 - series of bombings targets five churches, killing 11

  • October 2006 - Orthodox priest, Boulos Iskander, snatched in Mosul by group demanding ransom. Despite payment of the ransom, priest found beheaded, his arms and legs also cut off

  • June 2007 - Ragheed Ganni - a priest and secretary to Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahh, killed in 2008 - shot dead in his church along with three companions

  • January 2008 - Bombs go off outside three Chaldean and Assyrian churches in Mosul, two churches in Kirkuk and four in Baghdad

  • February 2008 - Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahh kidnapped; body found in shallow grave two weeks later

  • April 2008 - Fr Adel Youssef, an Assyrian Orthodox priest, shot dead by unknown assailants

  • February 2010 - At least eight Christians die in a two-week spate of attacks in northern city of Mosul

 


 

52 Dead After Muslim Militants Attack Iraqi Christian Church

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/52-dead-after-muslim-militants-attack-iraqi-christian-church/

 

Posted on November 1, 2010 at 7:49am

 

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church where militants had taken an entire congregation hostage for four hours, leaving at least 52 people dead, including a priest, Iraqi officials said Monday.

 

It was not immediately clear whether the hostages died at the hands of the attackers or during the rescue late on Sunday night in an affluent neighborhood of the capital.

 

The incident began when militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the Iraqi stock exchange at dusk Sunday before turning their attention to the nearby Our Lady of Deliverance church – one of Baghdad’s main Catholic places of worship – taking about 120 Christians hostage.

 

Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, the deputy interior minister, said 52 people were killed and 67 wounded, in the bloodbath. Officials said at least one priest and 10 policemen were among the dead. Many of the wounded were women.

 

A Christian member of parliament on Monday described the Iraqi rescue operation as “not professional,“ saying ”it was a hasty action that prompted the terrorists to kill the worshipers.”

 

“We have no clear picture yet whether the worshipers were killed by the security forces bullets or by terrorists, but what we know is that most of them were killed when the security forces started to storm the church,” Younadem Kana said.

 

Video footage from an American drone that was overhead during the attack showed a black plume of smoke followed by flashes from inside the building before what appears to be soldiers going in. U.S. forces often supply air support to Iraqi forces conducting operations on the ground, feeding them video footage of what American drones see from the air.

 

The casualty information was confirmed by police and officials at hospitals where the dead and wounded were taken.

 

There were conflicting accounts about the number of attackers involved in the assault, with Baghdad military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi saying Sunday night that security forces killed eight, while the U.S. military said between five and seven died.

 

Two police officers on the scene, however, say only three attackers were killed and another seven arrested afterward.

 

Outside the Syrian Catholic church Monday morning, Raed Hadi leaned against his car on top of which rested a casket holding the body of his cousin, who was killed in the siege. Hadi was waiting for the police to let him onto the church grounds to bury his relative. He railed against Iraqi authorities.

 

“It was a massacre in there and now they are cleaning it up,” said Raed. “We Christians don’t have enough protection. … What shall I do now? Leave and ask for asylum?”

 

Police pushed back onlookers from around the church by erecting a barbed wire fence but residents and people from the Christian community claimed that it was too little, too late.

 

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack. The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would “exterminate Iraqi Christians” if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed.

 

It specifically mentioned two women in Egypt that extremists maintain have converted to Islam and are being held against their will in Egypt. The two are wives of priests and are believed to have converted to Islam to leave their husbands since divorce is banned by Egypt’s Coptic Church. One woman disappeared in 2004 and another in July.

 

Egypt’s Christians had maintained they were kidnapped and staged rallies for their release. Both were later recovered by police, denied any conversions and were then spirited away to distant monasteries.

 

In the message, the militants claim the two are still Muslim and called upon the Vatican, which held a meeting earlier in October to discuss the fate of Christians in the Middle East, to release the women.

 

“We direct our speech to the Vatican and say that as you met with Christians of the Mideast a few days ago to support them and back them, now you have to pressure them to release our sisters, otherwise death will reach you all,” the message said.

 

Iraqi Christians, who have been frequent targets for Sunni insurgents, have left in droves since the 2003 U.S.-led war. Catholics used to represent 2.89 percent of the population in 1980; by 2008 they were just 0.89 percent.

 

One Iraqi man who identified himself only as Abu Sami for security reasons, said his wife was inside the church during the attack. Although she was unharmed, he said he feared that the church siege signaled a new round of violence by militants against Iraq’s Christian community.

 

“I expect the coming attacks will be worse in the future since the government is doing nothing to protect us. We are peaceful people and never harmed any of our fellow countrymen, so we do not understand the reasons behind such evil attacks,” he said.

 

“Many Christians now believe that they do not have any hope in Iraq and the best thing to survive is to seek another country to live in,” he said.

Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad and Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan contributed to this report.

 


37 Christians killed in Iraq church drama

http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/article737360.ece/37-hostages-killed-in-Baghdad-church-drama
 

Nov 1, 2010 7:51 AM | By Sapa-AFP
 

Seven security force members and 37 Christians were killed when US and Iraqi forces stormed a Baghdad cathedral to free dozens of hostages, an official said Monday, as an Al-Qaeda group claimed the attack.

 

Among those killed in the Sunday night hostage drama were five women, seven children and two priests, an interior ministry official and witnesses said. Ten women, eight children and a priest were among the wounded.

 

"The latest toll is that 37 of the hostages were killed and 56 wounded," the official said, adding that seven security force members were killed and 15 wounded. He did not specify if any Americans were among the dead.

 

Five attackers were killed and eight arrested, he said, adding there had been more than 100 worshippers at the Sayidat al-Nejat Catholic cathedral in central Baghdad when the hostage-takers stormed in.

 

The gunmen had attacked during evening mass after killing two guards at the nearby headquarters of the Baghdad stock exchange.

 

At least one of the deaths came before the rescue operation: one of the freed hostages, an 18-year-old man, said the first thing the gunmen did when they entered the church was to shoot the priest.

 

"They entered the church with their weapons, wearing military uniforms. They came into the prayer hall, and immediately killed the priest," he said, declining to give his name.

 

All the hostages had been huddled into the main prayer hall when the gunbattles began with security forces, he said.

 

"We heard a lot of gunfire and explosions, and some people were hurt from falling windows, doors and debris."

 

The Chaldean bishop of Baghdad, Bishop Shlimoune Wardouni, said that two priests had been killed, and one shot in the kidney.

 

"It's a great sorrow, because this was an inhuman act. Even animals are not doing this to each other," Wardouni said.

 

Officials had said that at least one of the gunmen who raided the cathedral in the Karrada neighbourhood had blown himself up with a suicide belt as police made a first attempt to enter.

 

"We came here to help the police and army free the hostages, and we released them with the help of the Americans," a member of Iraq's anti-terrorist unit told AFP.

 

Wardouni said earlier that the gunmen were demanding the release of detainees held in Iraq and Egypt.

 

The SITE monitoring group said Monday that the Islamic State of Iraq, the local branch of Al-Qaeda, had claimed the Baghdad attack, saying its fighters had captured the Christians and also gave the Coptic church in Egypt a 48-hour deadline to release women it said were being held captive by the Christians.

 

It said an "angry group of mujahedeen from among the supporters of Allah raided one of the filthy dens of idolatry that was always used by the Christians of Iraq as a headquarters to fight the religion of Islam and to support those who fight that religion," SITE said.

 

The group in a statement posted on jihadist websites said it was giving the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt 48 hours to release Muslim women "imprisoned in... the monasteries of disbelief and the churches of idolatry in Egypt."

 

SITE said the threat comes amid calls by jihadists and Al-Qaeda's media arm for Muslims to take action against the Egyptian Coptic church over the alleged imprisonment of two women, both wives of Coptic priests.

 

It said jihadists believe one of the women had converted to Islam and was then imprisoned in a church, while the second had allegedly wanted to convert to Islam and suffered the same fate.

 

The Vatican, Italy and France were among the first to condemn the hostage-taking in Baghdad.

 

Around 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq in 2003 but their number has since shrunk to 550,000 as members of the community have fled abroad, according to Christian leaders.

 

Iraqi Christians have frequently been the target of violence, including murder and abductions. Hundreds have been killed and several churches attacked since the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.

 

Violence has abated in Iraq since its peak in 2006-2007, but deadly bombings, gunfights and kidnappings are still routine.

 

The US military officially ended combat operations in Iraq at the end of August, but 50,000 troops still remain in the country.

 

 


Christian worshippers killed in Baghdad church raid

 

Nineteen die including police and soldiers after Iraqi forces stormed building where terrorists were holding hostages

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/31/christian-worshippers-killed-baghdad-raid

 

Martin Chulov in Baghdad

guardian.co.uk,

 

At least 19 people were killed today and dozens wounded, when Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church in which terrorists wearing explosive vests were holding worshippers hostage.

 

A US army spokesman, Lt Col Eric Bloom, said at least seven hostages, seven Iraqi troops and five militants were among the dead. Iraqi military officials said the death toll was at least nine, while police and medical officials put it as high as 37.

 

The violence began just after 9pm, almost four hours after a group of between six and eight gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Our Lady of Salvation Chaldean Catholic church in the inner-city suburb of Karrada.

 

Worshippers caught up in the carnage described their ordeal to the Guardian as they fled the church. They said the attack was heralded by a car bomb outside the fortified church gate at 5:30pm. The two priests, who were about to begin mass ushered at least half of their 120-strong congregation to a small room in the back of the building, in a bid to protect them.

 

"After a while one of the terrorists opened the door and threw in a bomb," said a man who identified himself as Bassam. "There were injuries. They killed people, they injured people," he said, before collapsing on the road outside the church. "Where is our father?" he screamed," referring to his priest. "Where is our father?"

 

For the next four hours, the terrified congregation cowered inside the room. The streets of central Karrada were shut down and darkened, with only flares from circling helicopters illuminating a pitch-black sky. As the Iraqi forces closed in, militants inside the church detonated several large bombs.

 

Local television station al-Baghdadia reported that one of the gunmen had called the network in the early stages of the siege, identifying himself as a member of an al-Qaida-aligned group, the Islamic State of Iraq. He demanded the release of prisoners in Iraq and Egypt. The station said the caller spoke in classical Arabic, in what was seen as an attempt to disguise an accent that was identifiably non-Iraqi. A three-vehicle American patrol arrived at the scene around 8:30pm. About eight US soldiers – now a rarity on the streets of Baghdad – joined Iraqi counter-terrorism units outside the church walls.

 

"This won't take long," said an Iraqi army captain at the scene. "It will be over in half an hour."

 

Ferocious gunfire heralded the raid – almost on the captain's cue – followed by three loud booms, which security officials at the scene said were caused by terrorists detonating explosives strapped to their body as troops advanced.

 

A second burst of shooting followed the crack of sniper rounds from nearby rooftops. Eerie silence lasting around 5 minutes then followed, before a soldier called frantically for an ambulance – a fleet of which had been kept waiting about 500 metres away.

 

For the next forty minutes, a cacophony of screeching ambulances carried away the dead and injured. Walking wounded and survivors without injuries stumbled past them through the mayhem.

 

Among them were two elderly ladies in their blood-stained Sunday best, several children trembling too much to walk and a traumatised elderly couple searching in vain for their priest.

 

The priest they call Father Rafael is believed to have survived, but his colleague, Father Wissam, is believed to have been killed.

 

Bewildered and frantic, the survivors collapsed onto a median strip crying for telephones to call their families.

 

"I am going to leave Iraq with my family tomorrow," said Bassam, an employee of an internet company. "Why am I here?" he wailed. "Look at this – this is Iraq."

 


 

Gunmen attack Iraqi church in Baghdad

 

31 Oct 2010 15:41:30 GMT

Source: Reuters

 

BAGHDAD, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a Christian church in central Baghdad on Sunday, detonating three bombs before fighting skirmishes with security forces, a security official said.

 

"It is an armed attack on the Our Lady of Salvation church. Three explosions occurred and our forces are surrounding the area. What's really going on isn't clear to us yet," said Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman for the Baghdad operations command.

 

Other police sources said two security guards were killed in the attack, which began with a loud explosion. One source said the attackers had taken hostages in the Assyrian (Aramean) Catholic church.

 

Some police sources said they believed the initial target was the nearby Iraqi stock exchange, a fledgling bourse that lists a couple of dozen local companies.

 

A stock exchange official said he was not aware of any attack and said the exchange had been closed since mid-afternoon. (Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim, Muhanad Mohammed and Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Michael Christie; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

 

 


Iraq Church attack kills at least 45 people

http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-55842-Iraq-Church-attack-kills-at-least-45-people.html

 

Monday, November 01, 2010 09:53 GMT

 

The attack on a Catholic church (Our Lady of Salvation) in Baghdad, resulted in the death of at least 45 people while more than 70 were wounded.

Attackers stormed the church in the Karrada District on Sunday night, taking more than 100 people hostage.

At least 45 people were killed and 70 others were wounded including security forces, a police source told Alsumaria News.

Gunmen blew themselves up inside the church, the source said.

The standoff was ended on Monday at 3am at dawn, he added.
Defense Minister Abdul Qader Al Ubaidi affirmed that security forces successfully managed to free worshippers. The attack bears Al Qaeda prints, he said.

The Islamic State of Iraq, a group which is linked to Al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attackers were demanding the release of female prisoners from Iraqi and Egyptian jails.

They gave the Coptic church in Egypt a 48-hour deadline to release alleged female captives, the monitoring group SITE said on Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

****************************************************************

 

Arameans of Syria: http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/Arameans_Of_Syria.htm

Arameans of Iraq: http://www.aramnahrin.org/English/iraqichristians.htm

 

 


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