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Religious Leaders Condemn Iraq Church Bombings

3 August 2004 -- Muslim and Christian leaders have condemned a recent series of blasts at five Christian churches in Iraq that killed at least 10 people.

Pope John Paul II and Iraq's top Shi'a Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, are among religious leaders who yesterday condemned the attacks in Baghdad and Mosul that occurred on 1 August.

Barham Ahmad Salih, Iraq's deputy prime minister for national security, vowed the terrorists will not succeed in undermining Iraq's "national unity."

"These are criminals, whether foreign or remnants of the former regime, who hope that with their actions they can splinter Iraqi society and undermine our sense of national unity in the face of terrorism," Salih said. "These terrorists will not succeed in their aims. The Iraqi people are united in the battle in confronting terrorism and the evil it represents."

The Iraqi government has blamed the attacks on Jordanian militant Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. But only a little known group called the Committee of Planning and Follow-Up in Iraq has claimed responsibility. It is impossible to verify the group's claim on an Islamic website.

Turkey's International Truckers Association yesterday said it had stopped shipping cargo to U.S. troops in Iraq because of security concerns. Some 200 to 300 Turkish trucks had been delivering supplies daily to U.S. forces in Iraq.