Pope condemns 'ferocious' attack on church
The Pope spoke out yesterday against an al-Qa'ida attack on one of Baghdad's largest Roman Catholic churches as a ferocious assault on the defenceless, as the number of people killed in the clash rose to 52.
Nine suicide-vest-wearing terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qa'ida-linked group, stormed into the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad's middle-class Karrada district during an evening prayer service on Sunday.
Officials disclosed that the attackers sheltered behind a group of children as police, backed by US forces, moved to end the four-hour stand-off that had ensued.
Abdul-Qadr al-Obeidi, the Iraqi defence minister, said the government had no choice but to storm the church, and hailed the operation a success.
Victims included children, women, three priests and soldiers. Eight attackers were killed and a ninth detonated a suicide vest.
"I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, all the more ferocious in that it struck defenceless people united in the house of God, which is a place of love and reconciliation," Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims in an All Saints' Day address in St Peter's Square.(© Daily Telegraph, London)