Monday, November 1, 2010

Christians Are Loved In Iraq. They Make Good Hostages

Baghdad church seige ends with 47 dead


BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church where militants had taken an entire congregation hostage for four hours, leaving at least 47 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.

Officials said at least one priest and 10 policemen were among the dead. Many of the 62 wounded were women.

The casualty information came from police and officials at hospitals where the dead and wounded were taken. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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.