Bombs Hit Mosul, as Christians Are Offered Protection

13iraq01-6501.jpgBAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers struck the northern city of Mosul on Sunday, killing at least five Iraqis and wounding dozens more, as Iraq’s leaders rallied behind the city’s Christian minority, expressing distress at recent murders and displacement that have plagued the group.

The leaders pledged to send forces to ensure that Christians could return to their homes. Violence has continued in the area despite months of concerted effort by American forces and the Iraqi government to root out violent actors there.

The first of Sunday’s suicide attacks hit an Iraqi patrol; the second, which took place a few blocks from the first blast, was aimed at civilians, the American military said in a statement.

Most of the recent violence in Mosul has been aimed at Christians. Eleven Christians have been killed in the past 10 days and 485 families have fled their homes in the city for villages in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul, according to local Christian politicians, who requested anonymity because they feared reprisals.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered National Police forces to Mosul on Sunday to protect Christians and secure their churches.

“The prime minister will take steps immediately and do whatever is required to bring back the Christian families that had been displaced in recent days,” said a close aide to Mr. Maliki, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak with the news media.

In keeping with Mr. Maliki’s orders, Jawad al-Bolani, the interior minister, sent two police brigades to the city with orders to protect Christian churches, create security for Christian families who have remained and protect those who want to return to their homes, said Brig. Abdul Karim Khalaf, the ministry’s spokesman.

On Sunday evening, local Christians said that they were awaiting the police reinforcements but that they had not yet seen them.

Tariq al-Hashimi, the Sunni vice president, met Sunday with Christian leaders in Baghdad, including Msgr. Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Patriarchate, and two other bishops. “The Iraqis stand in solidarity with the Christians,” Mr. Hashimi said, pledging to press for immediate action to protect them.

“We want to make our voice heard by all senior officials,” said Monsignor Warduni, who said he was “satisfied” with what he heard from the vice president, “but we want it to be put into practice.”

“We are Iraqis, and we want to be part of this Iraq,” he said after the meeting. “All Iraq is ours and we are for Iraq.”

Mr. Hashimi also condemned security operations in Nineveh Province, where Mosul is located. “All the displaced families should return to their homes and all places of worship should be protected,” he said. “Christians have the same rights as we have” and the state has the same duty “to protect them from criminals and killers,” he added.

There were many theories about who was culpable for the Christians’ persecution. Some Arab politicians blamed the Kurds, but not by name. Kurdish politicians said former Baathists and “terrorists” were responsible. They noted that when the Christians fled, they chose to go to a Kurdish area north of Mosul for safety.

Monsignor Warduni said that he was in daily contact with his Chaldean colleagues in Mosul but that the Chaldeans did not know who was carrying out the killings.

In Baghdad, a bomb and assassinations took the lives of 13 people on Sunday. A car bomb exploded at lunchtime in a Shiite area in the western Baya neighborhood. Nine were killed and 13 were wounded, according to an Interior Ministry official. At least two of the dead were children on their way home from school, according to witnesses. Their knapsacks and textbooks, covered with blood, were strewn on the pavement.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, two Iraqi Army soldiers were killed and two members of the Awakening Council in Dora, a neighborhood in southern Baghdad, were assassinated. The soldiers were killed by a sniper rifle, according to the Interior Ministry official.

Suadad al-Salhy and Mudafer al-Husaini contributed reporting.