Iraqis Dig Trenches to Protect Christian Communities

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

After the recent spate of deadly car bomb attacks on Iraq’s dwindling Christian community, security forces are digging trenches around towns, setting up armed gates and increasing intelligence services to foil any future attacks.

“The Interior Minister has been ordered to set up a committee to supervise and follow up the protection of churches and other Christian worship places in Baghdad and other provinces,” Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abu-Righeef, the Interior Ministry Under-Secretary, said in a statement appearing in a report.

For example, in the northern province of Ninevah, which has a substantial Christian community, forces are digging trenches around two towns that were targeted in the past, Tilkaif and Hamdaniya, and installing two to four armed security gates in each town.

“These trenches, which will be 0.5m in width, will prevent car bombs from getting in and with the search at the gates it will be impossible for militants to launch attacks inside these towns,” said Abdul-Raheem al-Shimari, head of the provincial security and defense committee.

“We also increased our intelligence services to foil any such attacks against the Christians in the whole province,” Al-Shimari said.

The idea of installing trenches to deter car bombs was planned for Baghdad in 2006 but scrapped when it was decided to conduct military operations in the provinces to raid potential bomb suppliers.

Officials are also planning to establish a special force which will be responsible to protect churches and other minority worship places during holidays, when most attacks occur.

At present, it is believed that as many as half of the Christian population in Iraq has left the country since fighting began in 2003.
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