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November 01, 2010

Baghdad Commander Detained, Church Attack Victims Mourned

Iraqi officials announced the detention of a Baghdad police commander Tuesday as hundreds of mourners gathered to pay respects to the victims of an attack Sunday in a Catholic church in the capital.

As part of the investigation of the incident, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the police commander held whose district includes the attacked church.  

Authorities say at least 57 people were killed and nearly 70 wounded after militants attacked the Our Lady of Salvation Church and took more than 100 people hostage Sunday.  An al-Qaida-linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility.

The siege ended when Iraqi forces stormed the church hours later.  It is not clear how many people were killed by the militants and how many died during the rescue attempt.  

Tuesday's memorial service took place at another church near the attack site.  

The dead included at least 30 worshippers, two Catholic priests and several Iraqi security force members.  

The Islamic State of Iraq has been demanding the release of fellow militants from prisons in Iraq and in Egypt and has warned of more attacks against Christians.

Separately, The Associated Press says France has offered asylum to 150 Iraqi Christians, including some who were wounded during Sunday's siege.

Some information for this report proviced by AP, AFP and Reuters.