2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul

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


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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

In January 2009 15 Christians were killed in Mosul and more Christians fled to the Nineveh Plains and Christian villages in Iraqi Kurdistan seeking safety.[citation needed]

Accusation of Kurdish involvement[edit]

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 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[edit]


  1. ^ سبعة ضحايا بانفجار استهدف كنيسة "مار توما " وسط الموصل. al-Mada (in Arabic). 12 December 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "At least 15 killed in Iraq church blasts". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 August 2004. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Archbishop Paul Faraj Rahho: The Times obituary". The Times. 14 March 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Thousands of Christians flee Iraq city". CNN. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Spokesman: Shooter in Iraqi uniform kills U.S. troops". CNN. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Iraq pledges $900K to help displaced Christians". CNN. 2 November 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  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". MSNBC. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  9. ^ National Public Radio – 'Some Displaced Iraqi Christians Ponder Kurds' Role' http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96103301
  10. ^ Iraqi_MP_Peshmerga_-_not_al-Qaeda_-_targeting_Christians_in_Mosul_ http://news.trendaz.com/index.shtml?show=news&newsid=1319626&lang=EN
  11. ^ http://www.mcclatchydc.com/103/story/55711.html
  12. ^ http://www.worldmag.com/webextra/14672
  13. ^ http://www.gulfnews.com/region/Iraq/10257211.html