BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Christians are marking a somber Christmas in the face of repeated violence by militants intent on driving their beleaguered community from Iraq.
Hundreds of Christians gathered Saturday at a Baghdad church where Muslim extremists in October took more than 120 people hostage in a standoff that ended with 68 people dead.
The walls were pockmarked with bullet holes, plastic sheeting covered gaps where glass windows used to be and small pieces of dried flesh and blood remain stuck to the ceiling.
Archbishop Matti Shaba Matouka said he hoped Iraqi Christians would not flee the country.
U.N. officials estimate that about 1,000 Christian families have fled to the relative safety of northern Iraq following the church siege.
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