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16 April 2013

Christians called to pray following Boston and Baghdad bombs

Following the bombings in Iraq and Boston yesterday, there are renewed calls for Christians worldwide to pray for all caught up in conflict.

After two explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday left three people dead and more than 140 injured, prayers and messages of solidarity are flooding Twitter on #prayforboston and #bostonmarathon.

The Salvation Army in Boston responded quickly and provided support at the scene to survivors and emergency services, after the explosions near the marathon finish line. Accompanying two mobile kitchens, Salvation Army officers and volunteers are providing spiritual, practical and emotional support to runners, victims, service personnel and families.

Boston churches and houses of worship are opening their doors for prayer. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is holding a special prayer service at the city's Cathedral church of St Paul today.

The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley said: "Our prayers and concern are with so many who experienced the trauma of these acts, most especially the loved ones of those who lives were lost and those who were injured, and the injured themselves.

"In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need today."

With the London Marathon scheduled for Sunday, Elizabeth Hunt from Christians in Sport urged runners not to give in to fear. “A marathon is a fantastic way for thousands of people to celebrate their God-given ability to run. We will be praying for protection over the event but we have an opportunity to demonstrate that fear will not win.”

In Iraq, it is reported that at least 31 people have been killed and more than 200 others wounded in co-ordinated early morning explosions that hit cities including Baghdad, Fallujah, Kirkuk, Samarra and Hilla, mainly involving car bombs.

In one incident, two car bombs claimed two lives and wounded 17 at a checkpoint and in the northern city of Kirkuk, nine people were killed when six car bombs went off simultaneously, police said.

These attacks come ahead of Iraq's provincial elections on 20 April, the first in the country since 2010 and tensions are high between Iraq's Sunni and Shia Muslim communities.

Dr Jonathan Oloyede, the founder of the National Day of Prayer and Worship called on all Christians to a state of 'prayerful alertness' saying: "The bombings in Iraq and Boston demonstrate the pain that humans can inflict on each other. Yet, I believe in the power of God to bring peace and so with the funeral of Baroness Thatcher and the London Marathon on Sunday, I want to urge every Christians across the nation to be prayerfully alert and watchful."

Fred Drummond, director of prayer at the Evangelical Alliance said: "We are urging all people of faith to silently reflect. We ask God, whose heart is filled with compassion, to comfort those of every tongue, tribe and nation who are in crisis or caught in a trap of fear, desperation or grief."

Geoff Tunnicliffe, general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance also commented saying: “Our hearts and prayers go out for all the individuals and families who have been touched by this violence. May God help us finding more peaceful solutions to those matters that divide us.”