Who: Iraqis belonging to the Catholic sect. Terrorists belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq, part of the Al-Qaeda umbrella.
What: At least 58 people died when Iraqi security forces stormed a church to flush out terrorists who were holding members of the Catholic sect as hostages. The assailants took more than 100 worshippers as hostage in a standoff that ended after security forces stormed the church two hours later. At least 25 of those killed were hostages. The number of wounded are put at between 56 and 62 – many of them women.
Where: The terrorists stormed the Our Lady of Salvation church in the Karrada neighbourhood of central Baghdad.
When: People inside the church first heard explosions at about 1700 (local time) on Sunday evening. Iraqi Special Forces stormed the church around 2100 (local time) with air cover provided by U.S. occupation forces.
Why: The Islamic State of Iraq, a group linked to al-Qaeda, later claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted online after the attack. “Iraqi Christians would be exterminated if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed,” the statement reportedly said. It specifically mentioned two women in Egypt who they believe are being held against their will after converting to Islam. Iraqi authorities refused to negotiate the release of the asked prisoners that prompted the violent rescue operation.
How: About 100 people were inside the Assyrian Catholic Our Lady of Salvation Church for an evening Mass at the time. A group of armed men raided the nearby Iraq Stock Exchange building, and then took over the Catholic church just across the road, clashing with guards and killing some of them, police sources said. As soon as the security forces moved in to free the hostages, witnesses nearby said they then heard two explosions from inside the church and more shooting. The gunmen reportedly threw grenades and detonated their suicide vests.