Just a week ago, the Catholic Church held its Middle East Synod at the Vatican. Among the greatest threat for Christians are "Muslim Extremists" who want all Christians to be out of the Middle East.
We need peaceful Muslims to CONDEMN this BARBARIC acts done in the name of Islam by the few. We condemn this attrocities but we stand with those suffering Christians in the Middle East that their own blood become seed for Evangelization just as our saint-martyrs did.
Today, as we Catholics are celebrating the ALL SAINTS DAY, let us remember them, those who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of Christ and ask them to pray for us who are still journeying to salvation.
And those who died who still need the grace of God, may all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen!
Youth freed after the siege was brought to an end by security forces (Photo Source: SkyNewsEnergy Publisher - A siege by Iraqi security forces at one of Baghdad's largest Catholic churches ended on the night of October 31, leaving at least 37 people dead and twelve injured.
A group of gunmen wearing suicide vests walked into the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation during Sunday Mass. They held more than 50 parishioners hostage for several hours and threatened to kill them if al Qaeda prisoners were not released.
The siege was finally broken on that evening when Iraqi security forces stormed the church. Iraqi spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi claimed that five gunmen were killed during the rescue operation as well as one policeman a parishioner and one of the priests celebrating Mass.
The Christian community in Iraq has suffered persecution since the war. Many thousands have fled abroad. In this case it is still not known why the church was targeted. Some reports suggest that the gunmen had first planned to attack the nearby stock exchange.
Christian clergy and lay people have been kidnapped, murdered, and raped by Muslim terrorists and criminal gangs in Iraq, sparking the exodus of Christians from the country. Chaldean Christians, for example, have fled to neighboring countries that are relatively more accepting of non-Muslims, or to Western countries. Christianity has been present in Iraq since at least the 1st century AD.
Iraq's Jews, who had lived in the region since the time of Abraham and during their Babylonian Captivity, were expelled in the 1940s and 1950s following the infamous pogrom known as The Farhud. Sparked by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, one of the lead Muslim religious men of the region, Muslims went on a killing spree in Baghdad and elsewhere during the Second World War having allied themselves with the genocidal Nazi war machine in the Mideast's version of the Holocaust.
In a separate development news from Reuters:
BAGHDAD | Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:27pm EDT
BAGHDAD Oct 31 (Reuters) - Iraqi police stormed a church taken over by suspected al Qaeda-linked gunmen on Sunday and released the Catholic hostages that had been held inside, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.
"The operation has finished and we released all the hostages," said Brigadier General Ali Ibrahim, commander of the federal police in southeastern Baghdad. U.S. military officials, who watched the rescue operation from cameras in hovering helicopters, confirmed the report.
Younadam Kana, a Christian lawmaker, said that parishioners who had called him from inside the church had estimated that the gunmen had taken more than 50 hostages.
News from BBC News:
More than 30 people have been killed as Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church in central Baghdad to free dozens of hostages being held by gunmen there, security sources say.
Seven members of the Iraqi security forces and at least five attackers were among the dead but officials said most hostages were rescued.
About 100 people had been inside Our Lady of Salvation for an evening Mass.
The gunmen had reportedly demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants.
The local TV station, al-Baghdadiya, said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who said they were from the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs.
Reports said the attackers were not Iraqis, but foreign Arabs.
The raid came two days after a suicide attack on a cafe in Diyala province left 21 people dead.
Residents of Baghdad's Karada district, where the attack took place, first heard a loud explosion at about 1700 (1400 GMT), followed by gunfire.
Police said a group of armed men began by attacking the Iraq Stock Exchange building, and then took over the Catholic church just across the road, clashing with guards and killing some of them.
Security forces later surrounded the church and sealed off the area, with helicopters hovering overhead. Then they stormed the building.
Witnesses nearby said they then heard two explosions from inside the church and more shooting.
One eyewitness, who was inside the church, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the gunmen "came into the prayer hall and immediately killed the priest".
The witness, who declined to give his name, said the people in the church had huddled into the main prayer hall when the gunbattles began with the security forces.
The gunmen reportedly threw grenades and blew their suicide vests.
There were no negotiations with the gunmen before the security forces stormed the church, reports suggest.
Witnesses also say they saw US troops on the ground and US military helicopters hovering above the scene, but the extent of their involvement is not yet clear.
"The operation has finished and we released all the hostages," said the commander of police in south-eastern Baghdad, Brig-Gen Ali Ibrahim.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are different figures from different sources for the number of hostages and attackers involved, and how many of each were killed or captured.
Earlier reports said that two security guards at the stock exchange had been killed before the attackers occupied the church.
Many churches have been bombed in recent years - including Our Lady of Salvation in August 2004 - and priests kidnapped and killed, but there has never been a prolonged hostage situation like this before, our correspondent says.
There are about 1.5 million Christians from ancient denominations in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians have been leaving the country in droves since the US-led invasion in 2003.
News from Zenit.org:
Killed in Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad
Hostages Taken During Sunday Liturgy
BAGHDAD, Iraq, OCT. 31, 2010 (Zenit.org).- A hostage situation in the Sayidat al-Najat Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad today ended when Iraqi police stormed the church. At least seven are dead, and another 20 are wounded.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed that the Holy See was following closely the situation that began today when gunmen entered the church during the Sunday liturgy and took the congregation as hostages.
Syrian Catholic Archbishop Georges Casmoussa of Mosul reported in a phone call to the Sant'Egidio Community, "In the afternoon armed men entered the Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad during the Eucharistic Celebration, killing two people, after having driven a car through the entrance of the basilica."
The priest moved the congregation, consisting of about 50 people, into a back room. At one point, a gunman threw an explosive into the room, which caused some of the casualties.
The prelate said, "They claimed that to belong to the organization 'The Islamic State of Iraq' and asked that prisoners of their organization detained in Iraq and Egypt be freed."
In a brief interview with the blog "Baghdadhope" Auxiliary Bishop Shelmon Warduni of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, stated: "I know that there are victims among the outside guards of the church and that a little girl was killed."
Some of the hostages were able to escape as Iraqi and American soldiers surrounded the church. The troops eventually stormed the church and arrested eight gunmen. In their wake, at least seven dead were counted and 20 wounded.
"It is a big massacre, an unjust and unconscionable thing," Bishop Warduni said. "We pray that God enlighten the minds and the hearts of the terrorists who should think of the good of the people, of their own families and not follow these ways that are not the ways of God but those of the demon."
The Syrian Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, named for Our Lady of Salvation, had already been a target on August 1, 2004 in another attack that left at least 12 dead.