Iraqi forces kill three Libyan ‘Christmas bombers’

KIRKUK, Iraq — Iraqi army special forces killed three Libyans allegedly planning suicide bombings ahead of Christmas in a raid on Monday in the northern city of Mosul, a defence ministry spokesman said.

“Special forces from the Second Brigade in Mosul killed three Libyan suicide bombers in an operation,” acting on a tip-off, Major General Mohammed al-Askari said.

The soldiers raided a house in southern Mosul and came under attack with hand grenades, sparking a clash in which the three “terrorists” were killed, he said.

Security forces found three explosive vests, six hand grenades, a pistol and documents indicating the men had entered Iraq at the weekend, he said. The Libyans were planning to carry out suicide attacks ahead of Christmas.

Forty-four Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security forces personnel were killed on October 31 as gunmen seized a Baghdad cathedral and in an ensuing shoot-out when it was stormed by troops.

The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an Al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that Christians everywhere were henceforth “legitimate targets.”

Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province remain one of the most violent areas of Iraq, and the home of a sizeable Christian community