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Dec 25, 2010 10:41 AM by AP

Iraqi Christians mark somber Christmas in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi Christians are marking a somber Christmas in Baghdad.

Several hundred gathered today in the same church where less than two months ago dozens from their beleaguered community were killed by Muslim extremists intent on driving them from Iraq.

In front of the altar were photos of the dead parishioners, and twin black cassocks hung from the walls representing the two priests killed in the October bloodbath.

Archbishop Matti Shaba Matouka told the congregation "No matter how hard the storm blows, love will save us."

Gunmen stormed the Our Lady of Salvation church Oct. 31, taking more than 120 people hostage in a siege that ended with 68 people dead.

Iraqi church officials canceled many Christmas celebrations like appearances by Santa Claus or evening Mass, out of fear for their parishioners' safety after al-Qaida threatened more violence against them.

 

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