- Title: IRAQ: Protesters take to streets of Mosul, condemn attack
- Date: 3rd November 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) A UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI PRIEST, SAYING: "Those innocent people who were killed while praying in the Church - whether praying in a church or a mosque - this is an unacceptable act. They should have not been killed under God rules."
- Embargoed: 18th November 2010 12:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA6ZQEA3S89HT3DCJPAGU4F66PY
- Story Text: Nearly three thousand Christian protesters, accompanied by Muslim supporters, took to streets of the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday (November 2) in protest against Sunday's (October 31) attack that targeted Christians in Baghdad.
The protesters carried olive branches, banners and Iraqi flags as they marched through the streets of the city.
"Those innocent people who were killed while praying in the Church - whether praying in a church or a mosque - this is an unacceptable act," said an Iraqi priest who attended the rally.
Fifty-two hostages and police officers were killed on Monday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by al Qaeda-linked gunmen.
Iraqi Interior Ministry said that 67 people were wounded in the raid on the Assyrian Catholic church, which was seized by guerrillas during Sunday mass in what church officials said was the bloodiest attack on Iraq's Christian minority since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
A federal police source who declined to be identified said Sunday's rescue operation was extremely difficult.
Officials say some of the attackers blew up explosives vests or threw grenades during the raid, but sources said many of the victims died in gunfights between police and insurgents.
Iraq's Christians, who once numbered 1.5 million out of a total Iraqi population of about 30 million, have frequently been targeted by militants since the invasion, with churches bombed and priests assassinated. Many have fled.
Our Lady of Salvation was one of five churches in Baghdad and Mosul hit in coordinated attacks in August 2004 in which 12 people were killed.
Although violence in Iraq has fallen sharply since the height of sectarian bloodshed in 2006-07, attacks by Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militia continue daily.
Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack on "the dirty den of idolatry". It said in a statement posted on radical Islamic websites that it was an action against the Coptic church in Egypt, which it seemed to accuse of imprisoning Muslim women.
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