Iraqi Christians flee to Kurdistan region

IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — An insurgent artillery offensive against Christian villages in northern Iraq has sent thousands of people fleeing from their homes, seeking sanctuary in the Kurdish enclave. The shelling of the cluster of villages happened Wednesday in an area 45 miles from the frontier of the self-ruled Kurdish region.

Around two thousand Christians had entered the Kurdish city of Irbil by Thursday morning. Many arrived at churches in Irbil in the early morning hours after a long night without any sleep and were trying to get some rest at a sports center, where men and women are divided into separate rooms.

Inside the center the temperature continued to rise with the heat of the day and the ever increasing number of Christians seeking shelter there.

Many Christians at the sports center said they have no future in Iraq and want to leave the country entirely.

A Christian official in Irbil (Ano Jawhar Abdoka) says the Kurdish region is the only part of Iraq where Christians are protected from violence.

Sound: Upcoming

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.