Car bombs explode outside Baghdad churches, two dead

BAGHDAD, Reuters

Explosions outside two Christian churches in Baghdad on Sunday were suicide car bomb attacks, a senior Iraqi security source said.

The blasts killed at least two people, witnesses at the scene said.

The first blast occurred outside an Armenian church in the Karrada district of Baghdad, which is heavily populated with Christians, and sent thick clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky over the city.

The second blast happened about 15 minutes later outside an Assyrian church in the same area, rattling windows and sending a loud boom reverberating across the neighborhood.

An ambulance driver told Reuters at least two people were killed in the second explosion and several more were wounded.

The first blast blew out the stained glass windows of the church, scattered pieces of hot metal across a wide area and left the burning wreckage of at least three cars in its wake.

“There was a boobytrapped car, it exploded,” said policeman Geilan Wahoudi at the scene of the first explosion.

The U.S. military said it had found the shell of a mortar near that blast, which caused several injuries but is not believed to have killed anyone.

The bomb appeared to detonate near a generator, which may have caused more of a conflagration, the police said.

There are an estimated 800,000 Christians in Iraq, most of them living in Baghdad.

Earlier, one U.S. soldier was killed and two wounded when insurgents attacked their patrol with a roadside bomb, the U.S. army said.

The attack occured near the town of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad. The wounded were evacuated to a nearby military base.

The attack brought the number of American troops killed in Iraq since the start of last year’s invasion to at least 677.