A car bomb exploded near a church as worshippers left Sunday Mass, killing at least four civilians and injuring 18 in one of several attacks on Iraq's beleaguered Christian minority.
The coordinated assault came as the Iraqi military predicted that insurgent attacks, though declining, could continue for a few years, raising the prospect of militant violence after the scheduled withdrawal of all US troops by the end of 2011.
Three Christians and one Muslim died in the bombing at around 7 pm near a church on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad, said a police officer who was at the scene. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
An official at al-Kindi hospital confirmed the death toll and said at least 18 people were injured. Violence is sharply down in the war that began with the US-led invasion in 2003, but militants still carry out lethal attacks on a regular basis, some seemingly aimed at fomenting sectarian tension.
The US military completed a withdrawal of combat forces from Iraqi cities to outlying bases last month as part of a plan to let Iraq take the lead on ensuring its own security.