Mosul, Iraq -- As Iraqi Christians prepare for Christmas, bombs have caused explosions at two Christian churches on Tuesday. More attacks are feared.
A bomb at the Al Gahera (Our Lady of Purity) Syrian Orthodox Church in Mosul's city center caused a major explosion on Tuesday afternoon. The church received significant damage and a number of people were injured, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports.
The Al Beshara (Annunciation) Syrian Catholic Church in Mosul was hit earlier that day at 10:30 Tuesday morning by a bomb placed against an outside wall of the building. The bomb caused a minor explosion and damaged the wall, but nobody was hurt. A kindergarten occupied by children was near the explosion.
The Baghdad government has warned Church leaders of further attacks over Christmas, saying priests and religious sisters should be especially vigilant.
Fr. Bashar Warda, a Redemptorist priest of northern Iraq, told ACN that Christians felt very strong "fear and shock" at a time when they look forward to Christmas to "lift our spirits."
He reported that the Church would continue its Christmas preparations undeterred.
"Normally Christmas is a time when we lift our spirits with a number of festivities so you can imagine what the atmosphere is like here now."
Fr. Warda said he had talked to Fr. Nazen Eshoa, a parish priest at Al Beshara, who had returned to Mosul to minister despite being kidnapped for a few days last year.
"Fr. Nazen -- like all of us -- is shocked but he wants to continue preparing for Christmas as much as possible," Fr. Warda explained to ACN.
The identity of the attackers is not yet known. Church leaders do not know if there is a link between the attacks in Mosul and the threats against Christians in Baghdad.
The latest attacks in Mosul come less than three weeks after bomb attacks there caused serious damage to St. Ephrem's Chaldean Church and a nearby convent.
No one was hurt in the attacks, but at least five Chaldean Sisters were in the convent at the time.