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Christmas Day bombings in Iraq’s capital kill 37

  • Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))

    Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))

  • An awakening council member stands guard while women walk through the site of a bombing in a Christian section of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in two separate bomb attacks in Baghdad, officials said. The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed so far this month in Iraq to 441. According to U.N. estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    An awakening council member stands guard while women walk through the site of a bombing in a Christian section of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in two separate bomb attacks in Baghdad, officials said. The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed so far this month in Iraq to 441. According to U.N. estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

  • Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))

    Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))

  • A nun walks as worshipers attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Iraqi officials say a car bomb went off near a Baghdad church during Christmas Mass, more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

    A nun walks as worshipers attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Iraqi officials say a car bomb went off near a Baghdad church during Christmas Mass, more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

  • An Iraqi Christian woman lights candles before a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))

    An Iraqi Christian woman lights candles before a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))

  • Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Iraqi officials say a car bomb went off near a Baghdad church during Christmas Mass, more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

    Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Iraqi officials say a car bomb went off near a Baghdad church during Christmas Mass, more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

  • Iraqi police officers guard the entrance of St. Joseph's Chaldean Church before a Christmas mass in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq's dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, has often been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as unbelievers.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    Iraqi police officers guard the entrance of St. Joseph's Chaldean Church before a Christmas mass in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq's dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, has often been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as unbelievers.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

  • Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))
  • An awakening council member stands guard while women walk through the site of a bombing in a Christian section of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in two separate bomb attacks in Baghdad, officials said. The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed so far this month in Iraq to 441. According to U.N. estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
  • Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))
  • A nun walks as worshipers attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Iraqi officials say a car bomb went off near a Baghdad church during Christmas Mass, more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
  • An Iraqi Christian woman lights candles before a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, killing more than a dozen people, officials said. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani))
  • Iraqi Christians attend a Christmas mass at the Mother Teresa Catholic Church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec 25, 2013. Iraqi officials say a car bomb went off near a Baghdad church during Christmas Mass, more than a dozen people. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
  • Iraqi police officers guard the entrance of St. Joseph's Chaldean Church before a Christmas mass in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Militants on Wednesday launched two separate attacks against Christians in Baghdad, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq's dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, has often been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as unbelievers.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

BAGHDAD — Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in three separate Christmas Day bombings in Baghdad, killing at least 37 people, officials said Wednesday.

In one attack, a car bomb went off near a church in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, killing at least 26 people and wounding 38, a police officer said.

Earlier, two bombs ripped through a nearby outdoor market simultaneously in the Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21, the officer said.

The Iraq-based leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Sako, said the parked car bomb exploded after Christmas Mass and that none of the worshippers were hurt. Sako said he didn’t believe the church was the target.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq’s dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, often has been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as heretics.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemned the attacks in a statement.

“The Christian community in Iraq has suffered deliberate and senseless targeting by terrorists for many years, as have many other innocent Iraqis,” the statement read. “The United States abhors all such attacks and is committed to its partnership with the government of Iraq to combat the scourge of terrorism.”

Along with Christians, other targets include civilians in restaurants, cafes or crowded public areas, as well as Shiites and members of the Iraqi security forces, attacked in an attempt to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government and stir up Iraq’s already simmering sectarian tensions.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Wednesday’s bombings came amid a massive military operation in Iraq’s western desert as authorities try to hunt down insurgents who have stepped up attacks across Iraq in the past months, sending violence to levels not seen since 2008.

The Christmas Day attacks brought the total number of people killed so far this month in Iraq to 441. According to United Nations estimates, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the start of the year.

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