By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– A well-known Iraqi Christian doctor remains in serious condition after he was shot while working in a private hospital in the town of Mosul, in the latest attack on the country’s besieged Christian community.
Nuyia Youssif Nuyia was seriously injured in the shooting, which took place Saturday January 15, at the Rabi’a hospital in Mosul, Christians said.
Iraqi Christians said a group of suspects had earlier entered the hospital. The gun reportedly had a silencer and no suspects were yet detained Thursday, January 20.
Barnabas Fund, an advocacy group investigating the case, described the doctor as “one of the most famous cardiologists in the region.” It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but Islamic militants have stepped up attacks against Christians who they accuse of following a Western religion and supporting the U.S.-led invasion.
The doctor was reportedly the private physician of several church leaders. The attack on Dr Nuyia, who is married with four children, came shortly after an elderly Christian couple was killed in the capital Baghdad, relatives and rights investigators said.
Fawzi Rahim, 76, and his wife Janet Mekha, 78 — were killed December 30 after they answered their doorbell. When they opened the door, a bomb placed on their steps exploded, Christians said. Both were reportedly instantly killed.
“When I went there, I found both of them cut to pieces near the gate of their house,” said Rahim’s brother, Falah al-Tabbakh, in published remarks.
during the same night also at least seven other Christian homes in Baghdad were targeted, injuring at least 13 people, said Open Doors USA, a group supporting persecuted Christians in Iraq and other nations.
The carnage of the couple came a week after militants linked to terror group al-Qaeda renewed their threats to attack Iraq’s Christians.
Iraqi Christians say violence against them has escalated in the past year, including a bomb attack on three buses carrying Christian students in May and the Oct. 31 siege at Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral in Baghdad in which 58 were killed.
As a result of the increased anti-Christian violence, Iraq moved from Number 17 to Number 8 on this year’s Open Doors World Watch List
of countries it says are “the worst persecutors of Christians”.
The number of Christians in Iraq has decreased from up to 850,000 in 1991 to some 330,000 today, according to Open Doors estimates.
Thousands have fled Iraq and now reside as impoverished refugees in Syria and Jordan. Of the Christians that remain in Iraq, more than
half are internally displaced “due to violence and constant threats against them by Islamic extremists,” said Open Doors USA.
The Iraqi government clearly has not made protection of Christians a priority, the group complained.
“The U.S. government needs to strongly encourage and work with the Iraqi government to protect Christians and other religious minorities before they are all driven out of Iraq,” added Carl Moeller, who leads Open Doors USA.