More than 50 killed after gunmen take hostages at Iraqi church

November 1st, 2010 - 8:14 pm ICT by BNO News  

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BNO NEWS) — At least 52 people were killed and around 70 others were wounded after a group of gunmen attacked a Catholic church in Iraq on Sunday, officials said on Monday.

‘Our Lady of Salvation Church’, located in the Karrada District of Baghdad, was raided by a group of gunmen on Sunday evening, taking around 100 people hostage. According to reports, two of the attackers ignited an explosive device, which they were carrying on a vest.

Iraqi security forces were deployed to resolve the incident, which finally ended on Monday at 3 a.m. local time. Details of the operation have not been released, but Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Al Ubadi called the operations “successful,” saying that all terrorists were killed and a minimum number of victims died.

According to MSNBC, however, officials said a total of 52 people had been killed, including one priest, nine policemen, and several women.

The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) - a group connected to al-Qaeda - has claimed responsibility for the attack as they have demanded the release of alleged female prisoners from Iraqi and Egyptian custody.

ISI had given the Coptic Christian Church of Egypt, through an audio recording, a 48 hour period to release the female captives.

Pope Benedict condemned the attack on Monday. “I pray for the victims of this senseless violence, made even more ferocious because it struck defenseless people who were gathered in the house of God, which is a house of love and reconciliation,” Pope Benedict said.

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