BAGHDAD, (AP) – Gunmen killed two Christians in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul in the latest assault on the country’s dwindling Christian community, officials said Tuesday.
Iraq’s Christians are still reeling from last month’s assault on a Baghdad Catholic church that killed 68 people. An al-Qaeda group claimed responsibility for the shocking four-hour siege in which 58 worshippers died inside the church that militants had stormed during a Sunday Mass.
And just days after the church slaughter, militants attacked houses of Christians across Baghdad, killing five people. The same al-Qaeda front group took responsibility for those assaults as well, saying they and the church siege were in line with Islamic extremists’ resolve to strike Christians in Iraq and wherever they can be found.
In Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, two Christian men were sitting in their living room when gunmen broke into the house Monday night and shot them, a police officer in the northern city said.
Another house belonging to a Christian family in a different neighborhood of eastern Mosul was also bombed overnight. A police officer said that attack wounded a bystander. A doctor in Mosul confirmed the death toll.
Both officials spoke on condition of because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Hundreds of terrified Christian families have fled Mosul to escape extremist attacks and sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite militias unleashed by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Mosul is Iraq’s third largest city and Christians have lived there for some 1,800 years and a number of centuries-old churches and monasteries still stand.
The city is also a former Sunni insurgents stronghold where Iraqi Christians were subjected to abductions and a killing campaign since 2007 when al-Qaeda militants controlled many parts of the city.