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Christian man, daughter killed in bombing in Iraq

From Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
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Christian areas targeted in Baghdad
  • It's the latest in a series of strikes against Christians
  • The violence against Christians is spreading to the north
  • Christians have fled Iraq in recent years

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- A bombing in northern Iraq killed a Christian man and his 6-year-old daughter Tuesday, the latest in a series of strikes targeting the country's dwindling Christian population.

The incident occurred in Mosul, a multi-ethnic city in Nineveh province -- long the home of significant Christian enclaves.

A flurry of attacks in the north over the last 24 hours is a sign that the recent sectarian violence targeting Christians is spreading from Baghdad.

The man and his daughter were killed Tuesday afternoon when an explosive attached to a vehicle detonated, local police said.

Monday night, attackers went into two homes occupied by Christian families in the Tahrir neighborhood in the eastern part of the city, killed the two male heads of the households, and then drove off, the interior ministry official said.

In central Mosul, at about the same time, a bomb detonated outside a Christian's home. No one was hurt in that blast, which damaged the home's exterior.

Attacks in October 2008 on Christians in Mosul prompted a mass exodus from that city of 1.8 million people.

Many Christian families in Iraq who spoke to CNN said they feared for their safety and wanted to leave the country, but didn't have the means to do so.

Christians have endured a spurt of attacks in Baghdad since October 31, when militants attacked the Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral, leaving 70 people dead and 75 wounded, including 51 congregants and two priests. The Islamic State of Iraq, a militant group, claimed responsibility.

On November 9 and 10, at least three people were killed and 28 wounded in attacks targeting Christians in Baghdad.

The violence led the United States, the United Nations Security Council and an American Catholic archbishop to express concerns for Christians and other religious groups in Iraq.

Cardinal Emmanuel Delly III -- the patriarch of Iraq's largest Christian community, the Chaldean Catholic Church -- urged Iraqi Christians in a televised address Thursday to "stand firm" in their country during these "difficult times."

Christians are among the religious minorities in a country dominated by Sunnis and Shiites.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urged American officials to make a special effort to protect religious minorities in Iraq, such as Christians, Yazidis and Mandaeans.

"Given the United States' continued military presence there, we urge the administration to work with the Iraqi government to proactively heighten security at Christian and other minority religious sites.

"The United States also should press its allies in the region to be increasingly vigilant of the threats by extremists targeting religious minority communities and work together to reduce these threats, in order to secure their well being and help prevent the continued exodus of Christians and other minorities from the Middle East," said USCIRF chairman Leonard Leo.