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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 January 2006, 16:31 GMT
Churches targeted in Iraq blasts
Car bombs have exploded outside the Vatican embassy and near four churches in Iraq, killing at least three people.

The apparently co-ordinated attacks took place within 20 minutes of each other, Iraqi police said.

Three of the bombs went off in the capital Baghdad, while a further two were detonated in the northern oil city of Kirkuk.

All the fatalities reported were in Kirkuk, while at least nine people were wounded in the blasts.

'Co-ordinated spree'

In Kirkuk, three civilians were killed and one wounded in the attack on the Church of the Virgin, and six civilians were hurt in the blast outside an Orthodox church.

Both explosives-packed vehicles were detonated by remote control, according to a police spokesman.

In Baghdad, car bombs exploded outside St Joseph's Catholic church in the suburb of Sina'a and an Anglican church in the eastern Nidhal area.

There were no casualties reported in the attack on the Vatican embassy building in the east of the city.

Earlier on Sunday, at least 10 people were killed in a bomb attack outside a shop in a town south of Baghdad.

The blast occurred in Iskandariya, a predominantly Shia town about 40 km (25 miles) from the capital.

Christian targets

Churches in Iraq have been the target of previous bombings.

In August 2004, at least 12 people were killed and dozens injured in a spate of bombings in Baghdad and Mosul.

It was the first significant strike against Iraq's estimated 800,000 Christians since the US invasion began in 2003.

Christians make up just 3% of Iraq's 26 million people.


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