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Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

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Gunmen kidnap Iraqi Catholic archbishop

Latest update : 2008-02-29

The Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul on Friday became the latest Christian clergyman to be abducted in Iraq after gunmen opened fire on his car, killing his driver and two companions, according to Iocal police.

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday denounced as "atrocious" the kidnapping of a Chaldean Catholic archbishop in northern Iraq on Friday, expressing his bitterness at the attack, the Vatican said.
   
"Bitter following this atrocious act which touches the whole of the church in that country, in particular the Chaldean Church, the pope expresses his closesness with Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly and all the Christian community as well as the families of the victims," a statement from the Vatican said.
   
Gunmen kidnapped Faraj-Farraj Rahhu, the archbishop of Mosul, in Iraq's restive northern city of Mosul on Friday after a shootout that killed his three companions, a local Iraqi army commander said.
   
He is the latest in a long line of Chaldean clerics to be abducted in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003.
   
Iraq's Christians, with the Chaldean rite by far the largest community, were said to number as many as 800,000 before the 2003 invasion.
   
Associated with the "Crusader" invaders and regarded as well-off, they are now victims of sectarian cleansing, killings and kidnappings at the hands of both Sunni and Shiite Islamists, as well as criminal gangs.
   
Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the 80-year-old patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, was among 23 clerics made cardinal in November last year.

Date created : 2008-02-29

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