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Iraqi Christians forming ad hoc militias

Oct. 29, 2008 at 5:06 PM   |   Comments

MOSUL, Iraq, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Several members of the Christian community in northern Iraq are setting up ad hoc militias to secure their neighborhoods, rights advocates said Wednesday.

A campaign targeting the minority Christian community in Iraq erupted in September. The attacks corresponded roughly with the passing of a provincial elections law that set aside minority representation. Though the events may be coincidental, several Christian refugees suspect Kurds may be behind some of the attacks in an effort to affect regional demographics.

Iraqi Christian refugees in Syria told accounts of gunmen dressed in police uniforms targeting their community by vetting Iraqi national identification cards, which contain information on tribal and religious affiliation.

Mustafa Gundoghu with the Kurdish Human Rights Project told World Politics Review in a feature published Wednesday that Christians have received death threats through pamphlets, letters, e-mails and text messages from a group calling itself "al-Mujahadin."

With Baghdad struggling to contain the situation, several Christian neighborhoods have established their own security forces, setting up various checkpoints throughout the city, he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Tuesday ordered thousands of troops to the western edge of Mosul in what would be the third major Iraqi-led assault on the city.

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