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Security Heightened to Protect Christians in North Iraq

Baghdad (DPA) -- Iraqi forces imposed tight security measures Tuesday in the northern province of Nineveh around churches, after security were tipped off about a possible car bomb attack.

Security forces enforced a curfew in al-Majmouaa al-Thaqafiya region, north of Nineveh's capital city of Mosul, after they received information that gunmen would try to blow up a car near two churches in the area, Iraq's al-Sumaria news website reported.

All roads leading to the region have been closed, the website quoted a security source.

Less than two weeks ago, at least 52 people were killed after Iraqi forces stormed a Baghdad Assyrian Catholic church, where at least eight militants were holding over 100 worshippers hostage after Sunday services.

The recent church tragedy was the most significant for Christians in Iraq in the past two years.

Earlier on Tuesday, a jewelry store owner was killed by armed robbers who made off with a quantity of gold in Mosul. Sources told the German Press Agency dpa police killed one of the robbers, who had some of the stolen gold on him.

With gold prices up 25 per cent in the past year, jewelry stores have increasingly come under attack in recent months.

Elsewhere, police said they killed a gunman trying to plant an explosive in a southern district of the capital.

In a separate incident in Baghdad, a bomb went off, destroying shops that sell alcohol, but no one was injured.

Police also found a decapitated body in the central Babil province, south of Baghdad. The dead man was found inside his house.

The violence comes just one day after a series of blasts in predominantly Shiite Muslim cities killed at least 24 people. The attacks mostly targeted Iranian pilgrims and Shiite worshippers.

Iraq has seen increased violence in recent months, as the stalled process of government formation drags into its eighth month.

Late Monday, six people were killed and 15 injured went a car bomb exploded near a popular restaurant located in a suburb of Basra, a city some 550 kilometres south of the capital.


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