Iraqi Christians forced to flee

BAGHDAD, 1 (UPI) — At least a third of Iraq’s Christian community has fled as a result of targeting by Islamic militants, The Washington Times reported Monday.

The exodus has been especially acute in Baghdad where Christians were a long-standing minority, The Times reported.

Aid groups estimate between 300,000 and 600,000 Christians remain in Iraq today, whereas the last census in 1987 counted roughly 1 million Christians among Iraq’s 25 million residents.

Most Iraqi Christians are Chaldean Catholics who respect the pope’s authority but remain independent from Rome, while other denominations include Syrian Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholics and smaller groups of evangelicals, The Times reported.

In the last year, three priests have been killed and 10 others kidnapped in Iraq while many Christian families report death threats, vandalism, beatings and destruction of their homes and belongings, The Times reported.