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December 25, 2013

Car Bomb Kills 14 Outside Iraq Church

by VOA News

Iraqi officials say a bombing outside a church in southern Baghdad has killed at least 14 people.

The blast happened Wednesday, in the capital’s Dora neighborhood, where worshippers took part in services for Christmas, the Christian holy day that marks the birth of Jesus.

The bombing also wounded at least 30 people. The bomb was in a parked car; it went off while worshippers were leaving a church after finishing prayers, police sources said. Most of the victims were Christian, they added.
 
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.
 
Violence in Iraq has risen to its worst levels in more than five years as hardline Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida step up attacks on the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and anyone seen as supporting it.
 
The minority Christian community has been a target of attacks by al-Qaida militants in the past, including a 2010 attack on a church that killed dozens of people.
 
Also on Wednesday, two bombs went off in a crowded market in a separate, mostly Christian area in Dora, killing another six people and wounding 14, police and medics said.

Meanwhile, a series of car bombs, shootings and suicide attacks killed scores of Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims in the week before the Shi'ite holy day of Arbaeen, which coincided with Christmas Eve this year.
 
The United Nations says more than 8,000 people have been killed in Iraq this year, most of them civilians, in what has been the worst violence to hit the country since 2008. More than twice as many civilians have been killed in 2013 than in 2012.

Some information int this report was contributed by Reuters.