Christians fleeing Kirkuk

Oct. 5, 2009 at 4:40 PM

KIRKUK, Iraq, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Members of the minority Christian community in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk are fleeing the area because of fears of attacks, religious leaders say.

Louis Sako, the archbishop of Kirkuk, said scores of families have fled the region as the security situation in northern Iraq deteriorates, Iraq's satellite channel al-Sumaria reports.

A report by Minority Rights Group International in September said many members of the Christian religious community are fleeing Iraq in record numbers in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The Christian community in Iraq was the target of attacks in late 2008, forcing nearly half of the population to seek refuge in neighboring Syria.

Maj. Gen. Jamal Tahir, the police chief in Kirkuk, told the Voices of Iraq news agency that the body of a kidnapped Christian was found during the weekend.

"The body was found during a late hour last night in Domeez area, southern Kirkuk, and was taken to the morgue," he said.

The man was kidnapped recently in front of his home in downtown Kirkuk. Police said they found an envelope containing a 9mm bullet at the scene of the crime.

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