Bombs explode outside Baghdad churches, four dead

BAGHDAD Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:49pm EDT

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bombs exploded outside five Christian churches in Baghdad on Sunday, in apparently coordinated attacks that killed four people and wounded more than 30, Iraqi police said.

In the most serious attack, a car bomb exploded near a church on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 21. A police source said at least eight Christians were among the wounded.

Minutes later, a bomb outside a church in southern Baghdad's Dora district wounded three people and damaged the building.

Earlier, three bombs hidden in cardboard boxes went off near the gates of churches in the Ghadir and Karrada districts of central and eastern Baghdad. One wounded seven people, the others caused no injuries.

The bloodshed that followed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 has largely faded, but violence continues, especially in ethnically and religiously mixed areas.

Iraq's Christians, believed to number about 750,000, are a small minority in a mainly Muslim country of about 28 million people. Christians have sporadically been the target of attacks, particularly in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, leading many of them to flee abroad.

(Writing by Missy Ryan and Tim Cocks; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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