November 14th, 2008 18:59 EST
Murder in Mosul Sparks Fear and Panic
Iraqi Christians who returned to their ancient city after a wave of violence and intimidation are in shock after two sisters were stabbed to death when attackers broke into their home.
Lamyaa Sabih and her sister, Walaa, died from their injuries sustained at their house early Wednesday morning, November 12th, in the Alqahira residential area of the northern city of Mosul. Their mother, who lived with them, was also stabbed and is in critical condition. Police rushed to the scene and on arrival a security car was bombed, killing three policemen and badly damaging the Sabih family`s house.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Lamyaa was single but Walaa was married with two teenage children, a boy and a girl. The sisters, both in their 40s, had worked for a local provincial council since the 1980s and were known to be devout Syrian Catholics.
Initial reports received by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the charity for persecuted and suffering Christians, show how the incident has sparked fear and panic within the Christian community. Christians and other minorities are saying that the incident casts doubt on the Iraqi`s government`s bid to improve security with a massively increased police presence.
The police were sent after a campaign of violence and intimidation against Christians last month prompted a mass exodus of more than 2,000 families from Mosul. After repeated government assurances about improved security, people started returning to Mosul, up to 500 families in the past two weeks.
Speaking from northern Iraq in an interview with ACN, Fr. Bashar Warda, who has overseen the charity`s emergency relief programs for people fleeing Mosul, said yesterday`s incident was having a "dramatic" effect on the faithful, who fear another wave of attacks. Fr. Warda said, "It is clear that many would think of leaving Mosul again."
The incident comes after a series of setbacks for Christians in Iraq, climaxing with last week`s decision by the Iraqi parliament to offer Christians just three seats in the January provincial elections, 10 fewer than proposed in Article 50, which was dropped from a draft electoral bill in September.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten. Under the guidance of the Holy Father, it serves the persecuted and suffering Church by supporting more than 5000 projects in over 145 countries each year.
Contact: Michael Varenne, firstname.lastname@example.org, 718-609-0939. For more information please visit www.churchinneed.org.