AS BRITAIN absorbed the Chilcot report, Iraqis were in the midst of three days of national mourning following the deadliest single terror attack since Western forces invaded in 2003.
At least 250 people were killed in a bombing in the capital Baghdad around midnight on Sunday. Islamic State (IS) has said that it was behind the atrocity.
A lorry filled with explosives was detonated in the Karrada district of Baghdad, murdering and injuring hundreds as they were shopping for Eid, the festival which marks the end of Ramadan.
Baghdad citizens have lit candles during vigils near buildings gutted in the bomb blast.
The bombing, which took place in a largely Shia part of the capital, came within days of a significant defeat of IS forces, as they were ejected from the nearby city of Falluja by Iraqi forces.
The Baghdad bombing is the latest in a string of attacks across the Middle East claimed by IS-affiliated terrorists during the month of Ramadan. As many as 400 people are believed to have been killed in total, from the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, to attacks in Istanbul airport and at a restaurant in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and a bombing at one of the holiest of Islamic sites, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Pope Francis was among many Christian leaders to offer his prayers and condolences in the wake of this new outbreak of terrorist attacks. On Sunday, he said: “I offer my closeness to the families of all the people killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Dhaka, and in that, which took place in Baghdad.
“Let us pray together for them — for all the dead — and let us ask the Lord to convert the hearts of all those blinded by hatred.” He then led worshippers in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican in reciting the Hail Mary.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, whose diocese works closely with the sizeable Muslim community in the town, has also released a statement. He said: “During this past week we have witnessed a number of horrifying attacks in Baghdad, Dhaka, Qatif, and Medina.
“The fact that some of these attacks have targeted Muslims during the fasting month of Ramadan makes them even more distressing. What should be a time both of family celebration and increased worship has instead become one of mourning and sadness.
“We will continue to remember the victims of these, and other terrorist attacks, in our prayers. The Church of England in Leicester remains determined to work together with all people of peace for the good of all.”
A group of charities working with Christian Iraqis in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have hailed a new agreement made there between different denominations, which, they say, should help secure the presence of Christians in Iraq for generations to come.
To act as better advocates for the interests of Christians, a cross-denominational council of Christian leaders will be set up to co-ordinate with both international NGOs and local government officials to protect the Christian community.
A pilot scheme to construct homes for the most vulnerable Christian refugee families was also agreed, beginning with plans to build 100 homes.