BAGHDAD: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday told the Vatican’s ambassador to Iraq that his government is working to ensure the safety of Christians in the country, a day after the pope condemned recent attacks targeting churches and a convent. In his meeting with Monsignor Francis Assisi Chullikatt, al-Maliki stressed what he called strong links between Muslims and Christians in Iraq and said people of both faiths want to live together in peace, according to a statement released by his office.
Christians have been frequent targets of attacks by militants in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
On Sunday, a series of three apparently coordinated bombings targeted Christians in Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
The attacks began when a parked car bomb exploded near a Chaldean Catholic Church, causing damage but wounding no one.
About 30 minutes later, another parked car bomb exploded in the eastern part of the city near an Assyrian Christian Church, damaging the building and wounding four passers-by. Nearly simultaneously, a bomb planted near a Chaldean convent in western Mosul exploded, damaging the structure and a few nearby houses. No one was hurt.
On Monday in an annual speech to Vatican-based diplomats outlining the Holy See’s foreign policy priorities, the pope condemned the frequent attacks suffered by Iraq’s Christian community and said the country needs to undertake a constitutional reform that will safeguard the rights of minorities.
On Tuesday, Al-Maliki again condemned the attacks and told Chullikatt that those responsible would be captured.