MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - A Chaldean Catholic archbishop who was kidnapped
in Iraq last month
was found dead on Thursday, his body half-buried in an empty lot in the northern city of Mosul, police said.
Paulos Faraj Rahho, the archbishop of Mosul,
390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, was abducted on February 29 after gunmen attacked his car and killed his driver and two
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed Rahho's death on al Qaeda and said his
Shi'ite Islamist-led government was committed to protecting Christians, who make up about 3 percent of the population in mostly
"The perpetrators of this horrible crime
will not run from the hand of justice," Maliki said.
Pope Benedict, who had made several appeals for the archbishop's
freedom, called Rahho's death "an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being" in a letter to Iraqi
Chaldeans belong to a branch of the Roman
Catholic Church that practices an ancient Eastern rite and form the biggest Christian community in Iraq.
"I deplore the despicable act of violence
committed against the Archbishop of Mosul," U.S. President George W. Bush said in a statement. "We will continue to work with the Iraqi government
to protect and support civilians, irrespective of religious affiliation."
CAUSE OF DEATH UNCLEAR
Police said it was not clear whether Rahho,
65, had been killed or died of other causes. He appeared to have been dead a week and had no bullet wounds, police at the
morgue in Mosul said. He was dressed in black trousers and a blue shirt.
Mosul police Brigadier-General Khalid Abdul Sattar said the body showed
signs of decomposition.
Another police officer, who asked not to
be identified, said residents saw Rahho's half-buried body in an empty lot in eastern Mosul's al-Entisa district, a neighbourhood
notorious for al Qaeda-linked
The residents thought they recognized Rahho's
body from his beard and contacted police.
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said "killed" in
its headline about the death and the Vatican ambassador to Iraq, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, told the paper that Rahho was most likely injured
when he was kidnapped.
A number of Christian clergy have been kidnapped
and killed and churches bombed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. A former archbishop of Mosul, Basile Georges Casmoussa,
was kidnapped in 2005 but later released after a day in captivity.
The Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, Emmanuel III Delly,
who was made a cardinal by Pope
Benedict last November in a sign of solidarity with Iraq's Christians, was too upset to talk when called for reaction.
"Yes, he died," was all he could say.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement
that "the most absurd and unjustified violence continues to strike the Iraqi people and particularly the small Christian community."
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, Phil
Steward and Silvia Aloisi in Rome and Aseel Kami and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad; Writing by
Ross Colvin; Editing by Dominic Evans)
Watch the video and you tell me, those men laying in a line
did not try and talk to those killers. click here to open the School_Yard_Massacre
who believe terrorists are for peace, get themselves and others killed. People,
who support terrorism, are just as bad as the terrorists. It's as simple as that!
TERRORISTS TURNED MY 2,000 HOME VILLAGE
INTO AN ASHTRAY