Christian Nurse Killed in Mosul

Shiite Festival Sees Rising Death Toll

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MOSUL, Iraq, JULY 8, 2010 ( A Christian nurse who worked at the state hospital was killed Monday in Mosul by a bomb that was attached to the underside of his car.

Behnam Sabti, 54, was married and a father of three. He was killed instantly when the bomb exploded while he was driving, AsiaNews reported.

Local sources, who remained anonymous for security reasons, told the news agency that the motive of the murder was Sabti’s «religious identity.»

The sources expressed concern that violence against religious minorities will only increase as U.S. troops withdraw from Mosul, the «Al Qaeda stronghold in Mesopotamia.»

The number of Iraqis violently murdered last month in the country reached 284, the government reported, which is down from the 437 killed in June 2009.

Nonetheless, July is already beginning with a high death toll. In the past three days, over 60 people have been killed and 300 others injured in various attacks around Baghdad.

Attacks are especially targeting Iraqi Shiite pilgrims visiting a shrine to Imam Musa al-Khadim. A three-day festival honoring the religious leader ends today.

A suicide bomber exploded amid the crowd of pilgrims, killing an estimated 30. A car bomb and a roadside bomb were also responsible for murdering and wounding many more.

These attacks took place despite extensive security measures, including the presence of 200,000 soldiers to guard the access roads to the shrine, and the closing of the closer streets.

AsiaNews noted that this annual pilgrimage is often marked by violence, with almost 1,000 pilgrims being killed in 2005 due to a bomb scare stampede. Last year two suicide bombers killed 65 people.

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