A spate of attacks in Iraq killed five people and struck a church and a convent on Thursday, with one bomb at a busy market claiming two lives as shoppers stocked up for a Muslim feast and holiday.
In the deadliest incident, two home-made bombs exploded in the market in Mussayib, 60km south of Baghdad, killing three men and wounding 28, including two women and two children.
The attack occurred at around 11am local time, police said, and came as food markets were bustling ahead of the first day of Eid al-Adha, a festival and feast that marks the end of the hajj in Mecca, on Friday.
Separately, a car bomb at a taxi and bus station in Yusufiyah, also south of Baghdad, killed one man and left 10 people wounded, police said.
Both towns lie within a confessionally mixed region known as the Triangle of Death because of the frequency of attacks during the worst of Iraq’s insurgency in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.
Thursday’s fifth victim died when a magnetic “sticky bomb” attached to his car exploded on a highway towards the east of the Iraqi capital. A passenger was wounded.
In the restive northern city of Mosul, meanwhile, a church and a convent were struck by bombings, causing severe damage to both but leaving no casualties, religious leaders said.
One of the attacks hit the St Theresa Convent of Dominican Nuns in the western Jadida (New Mosul) district, according to Father Yousif Thomas Mirkis, chief representative of the Dominican order in Iraq.
“These attacks are aimed at forcing Christians to leave the country,” he told AFP, noting that the bomb had been placed inside the convent grounds and caused damage to its building.
Another bombing struck the Church of St Ephrem in the same Mosul district, causing major damage to the Chaldean church building, said Patriarchal Vicar George Basman.
“We cannot pray there,” he said, referring to the damage. “There were no casualties because it was a working day.”
Thousands of Christians fled Mosul, 350km north of Baghdad, last year because of violence that claimed the lives of 40 people from the community.
Since the invasion in 2003, hundreds of Christians have been killed and several Iraqi churches attacked.
A report this month by Human Rights Watch said minority groups in the north of the country, including Christians, have fallen victim to a struggle between Arabs and Kurds for control in several disputed districts.
Though violence nationwide has dropped dramatically compared to 18 months ago, attacks remain common, especially in Baghdad and Mosul.
A total of 410 people, including 343 civilians, were killed as a result of violence last month.
Â© 2009 AFP