Christians in Iraq fearing more violence

1008-christians-l1.jpgArchbishop Louis Sako
The kidnapping and death of a Christian health worker in Iraq’s Kirkuk is worrying the Christians in the area and is contributing to the exodus of Christians from the country, said the city’s Archbishop Louis Sako.

Major General Jamal Tahir, the police chief in Kirkuk, told the Voices of Iraq news agency that the body of the kidnapped man was found during the weekend, UPI reported.

Imad Elias Abdul Karim, a 55 yea -old Christian nurse, went missing on Saturday in Kirkuk, the Zenit news agency said. He was reportedly snatched from in front of his home. Police said they found an envelope containing a 9mm bullet at the scene of the crime. reported that the police found him dead Sunday night, and noted that the body had “obvious signs of torture.”

Zenit reported that Archbishop Sako had made a public appeal for the man’s release, and called the situation of Christians in Iraq “worrying.” He said that, increasingly, “Christians are a target of violence.”

“Everybody knows,” he added, “that Christians are citizens of this country and this city and no one has any doubts about their devotion to their country or their sincerity.”

He denounced “acts against Christians who want to have a role in rebuilding the nation,” and he called on “government authorities, the decent people of Iraq and Kirkuk, to do everything to protect all citizens, whoever they are.”

Kirkuk’s minorities, such as Chaldean and Assyrian Christians, increasingly worry about being caught in the middle of the bitter politics between the region’s Kurds, Arabs and Turkomen, said the Associated Press.

“We think there is a political nature to these kidnappings, which is meant to force us to leave Iraq,” Archbishop Sako was cited saying.