Iraqi Christians Killed In Christmas Day Car Bomb

A car bomb near a church in Baghdad has killed at least 15 people - thought to be mainly Iraqi Christians celebrating Christmas.

The bomb went off inside a parked car, injuring at least 28 others, as Christians left a Christmas Day service, the BBC reported.

Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Virgin Mary Chaldean church

No-one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the latest in a series of violent acts against the country's ancient Christian community, since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Christian population has almost halved from around one million since before the war.

This year, growing violence across the country has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 civilians.

The attack came as the Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury both urged people to give "a special thought and prayer" to Christians around the world who suffer for their faith.

Archbishop Welby, who was enthroned as leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican community in March, said Christian communities in the Middle East were being "attacked and massacred" and he particularly condemned the continuing suffering in Palestine, Israel and South Sudan.

""We see injustice in the ever more seriously threatened Christian communities of the Middle East.

"They are attacked and massacred, driven into exile from a region in which their presence has always been essential."

Speaking at Christmas midnight mass, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols told worshippers: "Christians are the most widely persecuted religious group in the world today and this evening we think especially of the Middle East, especially of Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

"As Prince Charles said last week: 'Christianity was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters'."

"We come to this Cathedral this evening freely and relatively easily, ready to give a simple act of witness to our faith. But for many going to church is an act of life-risking bravery. We thank them and seek to be inspired by their courageous faith."

He not only quotes the prince, whose original comments were made last week as he spent a day visiting the Coptic and Syrian Orthodox communities in Hertfordshire and London, but also Pope Francis in reflecting upon hope and tenderness.

The Archbishop said at "this pivotal moment we know how much healing we need".

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