11/14/2009, 00.00
IRAQ
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Mosul armed group kills 16 year old Christian on doorstep of home

Rami Katchik belongs to the Armenian community. The murder occurred in the neighbourhood of Tahrir. The police say motive is not yet clear. Fr. Hazem Girgis, a local priest: It is one of the many crimes committed to eradicate Christians from the area and force them to leave.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - A 16 year old Christian was killed on the doorstep of his home in Mosul, in the neighborhood of Tahrir. The boy, Rami Katchik, belongs to the Armenian community.  

Police said that on 13 November, at about 17.30, "Unidentified gunmen opened fire from a black car that arrived at speed". Local sources report that the boy was washing the front door with his father when he was shot.

Girgis Paulos, neighbour of the Katchik family says that at the moment of the attack "the father had just entered the house to get a shovel. When he heard the gun shots he ran out and saw three men in the car".  

Police agents say it is not yet clear whether there are religious reasons behind the assassination, but Fr. Hazem Girgis, a local priest, sees the murder as "one of the many crimes committed to eradicate Christians from the area and force them to leave".  

For some time members of the Christian community of Mosul are victims of attacks from 2008 to now these violent episodes have caused 40 deaths. Thousands fled the city in northern Iraq last year. A report published November 10 by Human Rights Watch says that Christians and minorities who inhabit the northern regions of Iraq are victims of a conflict between Arabs and Kurds for control of the province.  

Since the fall of Saddam to today the numbers of Christians in Mosul have been decimated. During the dictatorship the largest parish in the city had a greater number of believers than there are today throughout the entire diocese.  

Yesterday the new archbishop of the city was announced, over a year after the murder of Mgr. Rahho (see AsiaNews, 13/11/2009, "Mosul is celebrating the appointment of the new archbishop, after the death of Msgr. Rahho). The news has brought hope to the local community, but the murder of the young Katchik falls on the celebrations reawakening fear.

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