Bomb attacks on Christians in Baghdad kill 37

At least 37 were killed in Iraq after militants targeted
Christians in two separate bomb attacks on Wednesday, according to officials.

In one attack, a car bomb went off near a church during
Christmas Mass in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, killing at least 26
people and wounding 38, a police officer said.
A little bit earlier, a bomb ripped through an outdoor
market in the nearby Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and
wounding 21, the officer added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the
attacks, but Iraq’s dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number
about 400,000 to 600,000 people, has often been targeted by al-Qaida and other
insurgents who see the Christians as unbelievers.
Along with Christians, other targets include civilians in
restaurants, cafes or crowded public areas, as well as Shiites and also members
of the Iraqi security forces, who are targeted in an attempt to undermine
confidence in the Shiite-led government and stir up Iraq’s already simmering
sectarian tensions.
A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both
officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to
talk to the media.
The U.S Embassy in Baghdad condemned the violence in a
statement released Wednesday,
“The United States Embassy condemns in the strongest
terms today’s attacks in the Dora area of Baghdad that targeted Christians
celebrating Christmas,” the statement read. 
“The United States abhors all such attacks and is
committed to its partnership with the Government of Iraq to combat the scourge
of terrorism.”
Wednesday’s bombings came amid a massive military operation
in Iraq’s western desert as authorities try to hunt down insurgents who have
stepped up attacks across Iraq in the past months, sending violence to levels
not seen since 2008.
The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people
killed so far this month in Iraq to 441. According to U.N. estimates, more than
8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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