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Four die as bombs target Christians

A wave of bombings targeting Baghdad's Christian community have killed at least four people and wounded 19, less than two weeks after a siege at a Baghdad church left scores dead.

At least 11 roadside bombs detonated within an hour of each other in three predominantly Christian areas of central Baghdad. Four of the blasts hit houses belonging to Christians, and two mortar rounds also struck Christian enclaves of the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood.

The violence underlines the threat to Iraq's minority Christian community still in shock after the massacre at a Catholic cathedral last week that left 58 people dead.

Al Qaida claimed responsibility for that attack and threatened more violence against Christians.

The fresh wave of attacks come after a similar series of bombings on Tuesday that hit three empty houses belonging to Christians in western Baghdad. No one was wounded in those.

Younadem Kana, a Christian member of the Iraqi parliament, condemned the violence and blamed police and military for failing to protect the Christian community despite boosting security measures at churches around the capital.

"These attacks are not targeting only Christians, but also the government that has promised to protect the Christians," he said. He added that the bombings exposed "grave flaws in the structure and the work of Iraq's security forces."

Even for a nation used to daily violence after years of war, the killings in Baghdad's main Catholic church of Our Lady of Salvation at the hands of Islamic militants shocked Iraqis.

It was the worst attack against the country's Christian minority since the 2003 invasion unleashed fierce sectarian fighting between Iraq's Muslim Shiite and Sunni militias that killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Grieving and afraid, many Iraqi Christians were saying after the church assault during the November 1 Sunday Mass that they may join what Catholic officials estimate is more than a million of their brethren who have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

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