At Evening Mass, "Bloodbath" in Baghdad
According to reports, as explosions could be heard from inside the church -- dedicated to Our Lady of Salvation -- on their entrance, the gunmen immediately killed the priest-celebrant. (The church is shown above, under guard during Christmas Mass in 2005.)
Shortly thereafter, as security forces raided the building, clashes ensued... and as the smoke clears, the wires have sent word of a "bloodbath," with the assailants said to have detonated "suicide vests," and according to most early briefs, at least a quarter of the Massgoers (at least one child among them) reported to have been killed, with scores of others wounded.
Lord, have mercy on us... and just in case any of this crowd needed the reminder, let us never take what we have for granted, lest we forget the suffering of the many who could only dream of it.
SVILUPPO: As reports continue to emerge, by late morning Baghdad time the toll climbed to at least 39 hostages killed, with 56 more injured.
Seven security forces personnel were likewise slain, with 15 others injured.
The church at which the attack took place is the cathedral of Baghdad's nearly 9,000-member Syriac-Catholic community.
SVILUPPO 2: At his noontime Angelus for All Saints Day, the Pope addressed the tragedy, renewing his appeal for an end to a violence he described in turns as "absurd," "savage," and "ferocious."
SVILUPPO 3: Monday night update; death toll rises to 58 as survivors of the ordeal begin to speak.
PHOTO: Reuters(1); Getty(2)