Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lucia Islamists kill over 50 Catholics in a church UPDATE III

This is horrendous.
Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 1, 2010 / 12:13 pm (CNA).- Iraqi Catholics were beside themselves with grief on Monday after Islamic militants stormed the Syriac Catholic cathedral in Baghdad and held members hostage in an unprecedented attack that left more than 50 dead and over 70 wounded.

On Oct. 31, gunmen linked to al Qaeda took over 120 faithful hostage at the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation during Mass, demanding the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

After the Iraqi military raided the church to free the hostages, over 50 people, including 3 priests, were killed. Vatican Radio reported that between 70 and 80 people are seriously wounded from the attack, many of them women and children.

Pope Benedict lamented the disaster after he prayed the Angelus on Nov. 1. He condemned the “savage” attack and offered prayers for the victims.

“I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, even more ferocious in that it has been inflicted upon defenseless people gathered in God's house, which is a house of love and reconciliation,” the Holy Father said.
I noticed in another news item that they chose the church because it was a "dirty den of idolatry".

UPDATE: It gets worse. From JihadWatch, quoting CNN:
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....
UPDATE II: While going through the Jihad Watch Website, I found out why the Islamists attacked the church.  They wanted two women released from apparent captivity.  They claimed these women, the wives of priests, had converted to Islam.  The women had previously denied any conversion.  The Islamists called on the Vatican to pressure the Egyptian Catholics to release the women, otherwise they would "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 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.

UPDATE III: Here are more details on what happened.  It looks like the militants were not Iraqis.  Also, a large number of people were shot at when the militants took the church.  This is when the first priest was killed.  Before the Iraqi forces came in to rescue the hostages, there was black smoke coming up from the church.  And when the forces were running in, rather than shooting at them, the militants were shooting the congregation.
Sunday's bloodbath began at dusk, when a car bomb went off in the area and then militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the Iraqi stock exchange.

The car bombing and the attack on the stock exchange, in which only two guards were injured, may have been an attempt by the militants to divert attention from their real target — the nearby church in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood.

That attack soon followed. The gunmen went inside the church and took about 120 Christians hostage.

At least 58 people were killed, including 12 policemen as well as five bystanders thought to have been killed by the car bombing and blasts outside the church before the attackers stormed inside. Forty-one Christians inside the church also died, including two priests. Iraqi officials had initially provided a much lower death toll.

Witnesses said hostages died both before and during the rescue. They described a terrifying scene in which they desperately tried to shield themselves from the violence.

One parishioner, Rauf Naamat, said militants began by throwing several grenades and spraying the crowd inside the church with gunfire. After the initial violence and chaos died down, the militants walked up to the priest leading the mass, told him to lie down and shot him, he said.

An Iraqi official said he talked on a cell phone with one of the hostages during the siege. He said the hostage described how insurgents began shooting wildly when they went into the church and that he could see about 40 wounded people lying around him on the floor.

During the hours that followed, an eerie quiet descended on the building, punctuated only by quiet weeping, according to Naamat.

"Most people were too afraid to produce a sound. They feared militants would kill them if they heard them," Naamat said.

Naamat said he heard one of the attackers talking to what he thought was Iraqi security, threatening to blow themselves up if Iraqi forces stormed the building.

The Iraqi official who spoke by phone with one of the hostages said he also had a four-minute phone conversation with a militant, who demanded that authorities release all al-Qaida-linked prisoners starting with the women. The official said he judged by the militant's accent and speech that he was not Iraqi.

The militants also called an Egyptian television station, al-Baghdadia, during the hostage siege, repeating their demand that their colleagues be released.

When Iraqi special forces joined police and other officials already on the scene, they heard gunshots and decided to enter the church "to prevent the further loss of innocent lives," said Lt. Col. Terry L. Conder, a spokesman for U.S. special forces.

Naamat said the lights went out — turned off by Iraqi forces surrounding the building — and he heard the voices of Iraqi forces saying: "We will save you," as they entered the building wearing black uniforms and carrying rifles.

He said he then saw a militant approach the security forces as they made their way to the alter. The militant blew himself up, unleashing a massive blast.

The Iraqi official said that when the security forces stormed the church, the militants were shooting at the hostages.

Some 30 killed in basement

According to two security officials, most of the deaths took place in the basement where a gunman killed about 30 hostages when Iraqi forces began to enter the church. One official said the gunman set off an explosives vest he was wearing, but the other said the gunman threw two grenades at his hostages.

A member of the commando force that went into the church said security forces found three explosives vests and grenades.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

Video footage from an American drone showed a black plume of smoke pouring out of the church followed by flashes before security forces charged inside. U.S. forces often supply air support to Iraqi forces conducting operations on the ground, feeding them video footage from their aircraft.

Conder said Iraqi forces rescued 70 hostages, and Baghdad military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said they arrested five suspects, some of whom were not Iraqi.

Related links: Over 50 Catholics die during terrorist attack on Baghdad cathedral ~ Catholic News Agency
58 die in siege on Baghdad Catholic church

13 comment(s):

scrubone said...

It's grimly ironic to see them praising God that they were able to win a fight against completely unarmed and peaceful people.

Psycho Milt said...

Apparently it was only "by the grace of God" that they were able to take control of the unarmed people in this undefended building. Yeah, what superhuman courage, discipline and military skill that must have required...

Fisk had an article out recently pointing out that an ironic legacy of Bush's war against Iraq will be the eradication of Christianity there. It's already well under way.

Andrei said...

Fisk had an article out recently pointing out that an ironic legacy of Bush's war against Iraq will be the eradication of Christianity there. It's already well under way.

Yeah it's all Bush's fault - not the barbarians who perpetrate these atrocities, goodness me no.

Slaughtering Catholic Christians in Iraq for the alleged crimes of Coptic Christians in Egypt is nonsensical but then Jihadists are not known for rationality.

ZenTiger said...

Did Fisk also do an article pointing out the ironic legacy of Saddam's actions too?

Psycho Milt said...

Many, going back to the 1980s. However, right-wingers were no keener on those than on the Bush ones.

Andrei: didn't say that, or even imply it. And yes, jihadists consider murderous irrationality a virtue. I'm just saying it's a good idea not to dismantle things if you've no idea how to put them back together again.

ZenTiger said...

He stopped too early. And right wingers like myself were pretty much against Saddam as he increased his support for Hamas, he funded terrorists, he paid bounties to the families of suicide bombers, he rejected UN inspections, he attacked Kuwait and started building nuclear reactors, and decimated his own population.

He started off better than the predecessor, but that unfortunately did not last.

Matthew said...

dismantle things

"things"...what a euphemism as Zentiger has so aptly demonstrated in the comment after.

PM, I didn't detect a note of compassion from you for Christians who were murdered - just matter of fact consequences statement instead.(and I'm not implying that you don't).

Psycho Milt said...

"things"...what a euphemism...

Not a euphemism, an analogy. Different things.

PM, I didn't detect a note of compassion from you for Christians who were murdered...

Foolish of me to imagine people might just assume I'm not chuffed to hear of unarmed people in an undefended building being casually murdered by heavily-armed sociopathic ideologues, I guess...

Anonymous said...

You'd be throwing a fucking party if they'd been Jews milt so try not to be too suprised at other peoples skepticism.

What with your swastika logo and all.

Psycho Milt said...

I suspect it's your own desire for the murder of others that drives your skepticism, Murray.

I.M Fletcher said...

It seems that Christians over there are open targets according to a story from CNN -

An audio message released Monday gave the church 48 hours to disclose the status of Muslim women it said are imprisoned in Coptic churches in Egypt.
The message purportedly came from the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed responsibility for an attack on a Baghdad church Sunday that killed 58 people and wounded 75. The umbrella group includes a number of Sunni extremist organizations and has ties to al Qaeda in Iraq.
The group said the women’s alleged plight was the reason it stormed the church.
Wednesday, the group released a new message saying, “The Ministry of War of Islamic State of Iraq declares that all the centers, organizations and bodies of Christian leaders and followers have become legitimate targets by the Mujahedeens, wherever our hands will reach them.”

Images of some of the dead HERE

scrubone said...

a) could people please stop being idiots and randomly attacking people for what they *don't* say?

b) As I recall, the sanctions that were in place before the invasion were killing people too. Something had to be done.

c) It would only be ironic for Bush if his aim were to make Iraq christian. That may be the the motive of those with vivid imaginations, but I don't recall that being an official reason.

I.M Fletcher said...

Today, another three churches burned by jihadists in Russia - two Orthodox and one Baptist.


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