NR: "This is very clearly targeted at what little remains of Iraq's Christian community."
July 12, 2009
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After an earlier technical problem is resolved, Michael is able to report on the rash of church bombings in Baghdad today.
TOM FOREMAN: We're following the news out of Iraq about the bombings of six churches in a 24-hour period. As promised, we have gotten CNN's Michael Ware back in Baghdad. Michael, what can you tell us about all this?
MICHAEL WARE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Tom, what I can tell you is that in the last three hours or so, there's been five targeted bombings of Christian churches here in the capital, Baghdad, roughly around the time of Sunday evening services.
There was also an additional bombing late last night at St. Joseph's church here in Iraq. But, fortunately, because of the late hour, no one was there.
The tragic news, Tom, is that in this evening's five bombings, at least four people have been reported killed and 32 wounded.
Now, we're seeing continued spasms of violence here in Iraq as Al Qaeda and its allies maintain their bombing campaigns. But this evening, this is very clearly targeted at what little remains of Iraq's Christian community.
Now, attacks on the Christians have been underway since at least 2004. And whilst no one has an exact figure, it's believed of Iraq's estimated original 1 million Christians, most have fled the country in the wake of the violence targeting their communities.
Indeed, just October last year, in the northern city of Mosul, it's believed as many as 1,000 Christian families had to flee for their lives across Iraq's borders after Muslim extremists threatened them with death or conversion to Islam.
So in a nutshell, six more bombings of Christian churches in the last 24 hours here in the capital. Four people killed, and the onslaught against the Christian community here in Iraq clearly continues -- Tom?
FOREMAN: Michael, you and I have been talking for years now about the notion that when troops pulled out, there might be a realignment again of people pushing for power, trying to make sure that certain groups did not get any power.
Is this what we have been talking about all these years, or is this simply a continuation of what's been going on?
WARE: Well, the bombings themselves are a continuation of what's been going on.
I mean, if you remember, as I said, the Christians have been targeted for years. Under America's watch, hundreds of thousands of Christians had to leave Iraq for fear of their lives.
Minority groups, minority religious groups have been targeted. The most devastating attack of all was against a minority sect known as the Yezidis, where as many as 500 people were killed in one coordinated attack alone.
So to some degree, this does not reflect the handover from American to Iraqi command. The jockeying for power, the positioning and the maneuvering, that, nonetheless, continues unabated. But so far we've not seen that translate to violence on the streets. And one would hope that we won't see it do so, Tom, at least until next year's election and we test how the losers of that ballot will respond to whatever defeat they may suffer -- Tom?
FOREMAN: And quickly here, Michael, what about the bigger picture right now? It's been almost two weeks now since the U.S. troops moved out of the cities. Is that going well? Is that going poorly? What do you think?
WARE: Well, the withdrawal itself had been under way for six months. It began in January last year. As a military maneuver, a military redeployment, it was on its face entirely successful. The troops were withdrawn in an orderly manner.
The violence, nonetheless, was happening in the last days of the American-led phase of this war, and the violence continues in the beginning days of the Iraqi-led phase of this war.
I think the world forgets two things. One, there are still 130,000 American troops in Iraq even though they're not actively engaged in combat operations at the moment. And secondly, there's still a war going on -- Tom?
FOREMAN: All right, many thanks, Michael. Six church bombings in the past 24 hours, the latest news out of there.