October 11, 2008 / 5:58 PM / 9 years ago

Houses blown up as Christians flee Iraq's Mosul

2 Min Read

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Militants blew up three empty Christian homes on Saturday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where more than 800 Christian families have fled in the past two days, a Christian member of parliament said.

"I have been informed that three houses have been blown up. In two of them, the families were already displaced. The third, they evacuated the family and then blew up the house," parliamentarian Unadim Kanna told Iraqiya state television.

"More than 800 families have been displaced within two days," he said. "The horror is continuing in the city, especially in the eastern side."

"I appeal for the prime minister and the president to take responsibility, preserve security and allow the displaced families to return to their houses," he added.

Kanna told the U.S. funded al-Hurra Arabic language television channel that the flight over the past two days was prompted by threats from people connected with the security forces.

"I can't accuse anyone (in particular), but of course they are forces with badges in their pockets, walking the streets -- no one stops them -- knocking on the doors of Christians."

Police in Mosul confirmed that three empty houses belonging to Christians had been blown up on Saturday.

Iraq's Christians, who number in the hundreds of thousands, have tried to keep a low profile during years of sectarian fighting in Iraq, but have occasionally been targeted, with churches attacked and priests kidnapped.

In recent weeks, hundreds of Christians have taken to the streets in Baghdad and Mosul to protest against a provincial election law which deprives them of small quotas of seats in Nineveh, Baghdad and other provinces.

The government has asked parliament to restore the quotas.

U.S. forces say Mosul is where Sunni Islamist militants from al Qaeda have regrouped to make a stand after being driven from other parts of Iraq.

Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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