Prelate Laments Murder of Iraqi Christians

KIRKUK, Iraq, APRIL 27, 2009 ( The archbishop of Kirkuk is lamenting the murder of three Christians Sunday night, and is stating that despite this tragedy, the Church will remain in Iraq.

Archbishop Louis Sako told Aid to the Church in Need today that although the killers have not been arrested, it is clear that the murders “were premeditated and that one probably key motive was to force Christians to leave.”

Susan Latif David and her mother-in-law, Muna Banna David, were killed by a group of armed men who entered their home in the Domeez section of Kirkuk. Both were Chaldean Catholics, and Susan was newly married to a man who owns a restaurant near the cathedral.

In another part of the city, Basil Shaba, a recently engaged Syrian Orthodox, was killed in a similar attack Sunday evening. His brother, Thamir, and father, Yousif, were also injured.

The archbishop described the funeral, reporting that it was filled with people expressing “tears and sadness” for these three “innocent loved ones.”

He said: “People were crying. We are all so sad. We only hope that the blood of the martyrs will one day bring us peace and stability.”

The prelate noted that leaders from Kirkuk united to condemn the attacks, and that many came to the funeral, including the mayor and leading sheikhs.

He added that the city’s police chief personally told him that he is committed to “do everything to ensure that those responsible will be arrested.”

Archbishop Sako said that attacks could be linked to “ongoing uncertainty over Kirkuk’s political future either as part of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north or under the jurisdiction of Baghdad.”

Despite the tragedy, the prelate asserted: “We will not leave Iraq. We have a mission to stay here.

“We have to give witness to our Christian values. Even if they try to kill us we will stay.”