Al-Qaeda paramilitaries attacked Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq while 100 parishioners worshiped at Sunday Mass. First they exploded a vehicle on the street and then the gunmen stormed the church The gunmen immediately killed the priest and then took over a hundred worshipers hostage. Iraqi official attempted to negotiate for three hours with the Islamic State of Iraq, the al-Qaeda affiliate, which demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants or else they would "exterminate" the hostages.
When Iraqi police and US troops launched a rescue mission, a gunmen exploded a suicide vest while standing at the altar and then the shootout ensued. While the commandos rescued 80 people, at least 37 hostages, including both priests died along with seven Iraqi police and six paramilitaries with several suspects captured. As Salah Abdul-Razzaq, the Governor of Baghdad, said after touring the church: "These people do not value human life and have no respect for any religion. They say they are Muslims, but they killed here in cold blood."
There are concerns that the disphora of Arab Christians will be hastened by this massacre. Since 2003, over a million Iraqi Christians have fled the country. The Chadean Catholic Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly urged the remaining 1.5 million Christians to remain in Iraq. Delly lamented "We have never seen anything like it, militants attacking God's house with worshippers praying for peace.”
It is easy to dismiss Mesopotamian massacres as just another bloody day in Iraq. On All Saints Day, I wanted to recognize the costs that members of the Communion of Saints sometimes pay for remaining steadfast in their Christian faith. It also shows the intolerance of jihadist fanatics who prize promulgate their sect through death and mayhem.