Kirkuk (Iraq): Fifteen people were wounded
on Tuesday by a car bomb targeting a Syrian Catholic church in
Kirkuk in northern Iraq, a police officer and a priest said.
The bomb exploded at the Holy Family church in the north
of Kirkuk at about 5:30 am (local time), wounding 15 people
including church staff and people in neighbouring houses, the
high-ranking officer in the Kirkuk police said.
The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added
that 30 homes in the area were damaged.
Imad Hanna, a priest, said it was the first time the
church had been targeted.
"Women, children and men from this neighbourhood were
wounded in the explosion," he said, added that two of the
wounded were in critical condition.
The wounded were taken to Kirkuk General and Azadi
hospitals, he added.
An agency correspondent said that the doors, windows and
generators at the church were destroyed, as well as pews
Some cars in the area were also destroyed, he said.
Several old women gathered to pray inside the church
after the blast, while other people gathered outside.
Some residents searched for belongings among the rubble
Ethnically divided Kirkuk lies at the centre of a tract
of territory which Kurdish leaders want to incorporate in
their autonomous region in the north over the opposition of
many of the province`s Arab and Turkmen residents and of Iraqi
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The number of Iraqi Christians has dwindled to about
400,000 from an estimated figure of between 800,000 and 1.2
million before the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam
Most of them live in Baghdad, Kirkuk, the area
surrounding the northern city of Mosul and parts of the
autonomous Kurdistan region in the north of Iraq.