A doorbell rings, a new attack on Iraqi Christians

BAGHDAD—The latest bloody attack on Iraq’s Christians was brutal in its simplicity. Militants left a bomb on the doorstep of the home of an elderly Christian couple and rang the doorbell.

When Fawzi Rahim, 76, and his 78-year-old wife Janet Mekha answered the doorbell Thursday night, the bomb exploded, killing them, Mekha’s brother told The Associated Press on Friday. Three other people, apparently passers-by, were wounded.

“When I went there, I found both of them cut to pieces near the gate of their house,” said the brother, Falah al-Tabbakh, 47, who had been at a funeral nearby in the eastern Baghdad district of Ghadir. He rushed to his sister’s house after neighbors called him, and they told him what happened, he said.

The bombing was among a string of seemingly coordinated attacks Thursday evening that targeted at least seven Christian homes in various parts of Baghdad that wounded at least 13 other people, a week after al-Qaida-linked militants renewed their threats to attack Iraq’s Christians.

The attacks are the latest since an Oct. 31 siege of a Baghdad church by al-Qaida killed 68 worshippers, terrifying the minority community, whose numbers have already fallen dramatically in the past seven years of violence in Iraq.

The repeated attacks have infuriated many Christians who question why the government seems unable to protect them despite its repeated promises since the church siege to do so.

“The Christians in Iraq are always targeted because they do not have militias and they do not believe in the power of weapons,” said Father Nadhir Dakko, a priest at St. George Chaldean Church, who performed the funeral service for the slain couple.

Speaking to reporters after the service, Dakko railed against what he called the government’s inability to “establish peace and security” for all Iraqis, Muslim and Christian. All Iraqis are suffering, he said, but the situation is harder for Christians because they are a minority.

“Iraq is bleeding every day,” he said.

The government, while calling on Christians not to flee Iraq, has beefed up security around churches and dispatched extra police patrols in Christian neighborhoods. They’ve placed concrete blast walls around the Our Lady of Salvation church where the siege occurred.

Still, authorities and Christian leaders have acknowledged that security forces cannot protect every single house, and asked Christians to be vigilant. Violence has gone down across the country the past two years, but the government still struggles to protect even its own police forces.

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