N. Iraq Suicide Bombing Kills District Council Chief
N. Iraq Suicide Bombing Kills District Council Chief

At least eight people have been killed in attacks targeting Christians and Shi'ite Muslims as they prepare to observe coinciding holidays.

A bomb exploded near a historic church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul Wednesday, killing two people in the latest attack targeting the city's Christian minority.

The attack wounded five people and caused damage to the Church of St. Thomas, which dates back to the eighth century.  The bombing came a day before Christians are due to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Islamic militants in Iraq have frequently targeted Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, driving many to flee the country.

In Baghdad, police say three separate bombings targeting Shi'ite worshipers killed at least six people and wounded about 40 others.

The attacks came as Shi'ites gathered to observe the solemn Ashura holiday, which marks the seventh-century killing of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

And in northern Baghdad, a bomb planted on a minibus killed at least one person and wounded three others.

A day earlier, gunmen shot dead Iraqi brigadier general Riyadh Abdulmajeed in front of his home in western Baghdad.

In other news, the U.S. military says Iraqi troops and their American advisers arrested a suspected member of a Shi'ite militant cell and two accomplices in southern Baghdad Wednesday.

It says the militant is believed to be responsible for mortar attacks in September against security forces and civilians in southern Iraq's Basra region.

The U.S. military also says Iraqi troops and U.S. advisers arrested four suspected terrorists Wednesday in the town of Rashidiyah, north of Mosul.

It says the four suspects are thought to be associates of an Al-Qaida in Iraq member responsible for suicide bombings in the towns of Balad and Muqdadiyah.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.