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2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul

2008 attacks on Christians
Location Mosul, Iraq
Date October 2008 – January 2009
Target Christians
Attack type
Killings, intimidation
Deaths > 40[1]
Suspected perpetrators
al-Qaeda in Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga

2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul was a series of attacks which targeted the Christians Mosul, Iraq. The Christians of Mosul which were already targeted during the Iraq War left the city en masse heading to Assyrian Christian villages in Nineveh Plains and Iraqi Kurdistan. Both Sunni extremists, and Kurdish peshmerga were blamed for the attacks.


  • Background 1
  • Attacks 2
    • October attacks 2.1
    • November attacks 2.2
  • Aftermath 3
    • 2009 attacks 3.1
  • Accusation of Kurdish involvement 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


Religious minorities in general and Christians in particular were badly affected by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism after the invasion of Iraq. A number of Christians was killed in Baghdad and Mosul, and in 1 Augusts 2004 a series of explosions targeted Churches in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk leaving 15 dead and 71 injured.[2]

On 13 March 2008, the body of the Chaldean Archbishop of the city, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was found buried in a shallow grave near Mosul. Rahho was the highest ranking Christian cleric to be killed in Iraq.[3]


October attacks

The first series of attacks started in October when Christians families were given choice of death or converting to Islam.[4] By the end of the month around 14 Christians were killed[5] and more than 13,000 were forced to flee to Nineveh Plains.[6] The Iraqi government pledged to $ 900,000 to help the refugees.[6]

November attacks

Seven bodies belonging to Christians were found in the streets of Mosul on early November. A house belonging to Syriac Catholic sisters was attacked and two nuns were killed and a third severely injured.[7] Around 500 families were forced to flee the city as a result, where they found refuge in Churches and with relatives in nearby villages.[8]


2009 attacks

On January 2009 15 Christians were killed in Mosul and more Christians fled to the Nineveh Plains and Christian villages in Iraqi Kurdistan seeking safety.

Accusation of Kurdish involvement

The Kurdish region is generally considered much safer for Christians and other religious minorities than other parts of Iraq. These attacks were however blamed on the Peshmerga who were forcing Christians out of their homes by threatening them with death or by killing them. Eyewitnesses claimed the some of the assailants were identified by their dialect as Kurds trying to pose as Arabs.[9][10] Rumour circulated that Kurds had secretly targeted the Christians in order to draw them to their side during an anticipated referendum concerning the Disputed territories of Iraq, of which the Christians form a substantial minority.

Some Iraqi and American military officials denied the allegations of Kurdish responsibility.[11] Younadem Kana, a member of Iraq’s parliament and head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, said media reports, including the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, “published lies under my name” accusing the Kurds of allowing violence to displace more Mosul Christians. “My statements were changed and fabrications were published under my name,” said Kana, who also heads the Assyrian Democratic Movement. He said the accusation against Kurds, first publicized at a press conference Oct. 25 by Sunni parliamentarian Osama al-Nujaifi, were “baseless.”[12]

Accusations against Kurdish groups were also made by al-Hadba Arab political bloc of Mosul, which is led by Osama Al Naijafi and his brother, Atheel, the current governor of Nineveh.[13]

See also


  1. ^ سبعة ضحايا بانفجار استهدف كنيسة "مار توما " وسط الموصل. al-Mada (in العربية). 12 December 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "At least 15 killed in Iraq church blasts".  
  3. ^ "Archbishop Paul Faraj Rahho: The Times obituary".  
  4. ^ "Thousands of Christians flee Iraq city".  
  5. ^ "Spokesman: Shooter in Iraqi uniform kills U.S. troops".  
  6. ^ a b "Iraq pledges $900K to help displaced Christians".  
  7. ^ "Fleeing Christians Face New Hardships in Turkey". Compass Direct News. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Attacks in Mosul force Christians to flee".  
  9. ^ National Public Radio – 'Some Displaced Iraqi Christians Ponder Kurds' Role'
  10. ^ Iraqi_MP_Peshmerga_-_not_al-Qaeda_-_targeting_Christians_in_Mosul_
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
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