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Archive for Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas now official holiday in Iraq

December 26, 2008

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— Iraq’s Christians, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.

But security worries overshadowed the day for many, particularly in the north where thousands of Christians have fled to escape religious attacks.

Overall security in Iraq has improved markedly in the past year, but a fatal car bombing in Baghdad on Christmas morning was a gruesome reminder that serious problems remain.

The bombing outside a restaurant frequented by police killed four people and wounded 25 others in the Shiite neighborhood of Shula, said a police officer on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give information to news media. The U.S. military later announced that one person was killed and 21 wounded. There was no way to immediately reconcile the differing numbers.

An American soldier was killed in a rocket or mortar attack near the northern city of Mosul, the military announced.

Also on Thursday, an oil official said attackers blew up a pipeline in the city of Kirkuk. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack happened Wednesday and that pumping was expected to resume within three days.

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