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Christians 'targets' as church deadline expires: Qaeda

world Updated: Nov 03, 2010 15:03 IST

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An al Qaeda group in Iraq declared Christians "legitimate targets" after the end of a deadline for Egypt's Coptic church to "release" women who converted to Islam, SITE monitors said on Wednesday.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq said in an Internet statement its action was justified by the church's refusal to indicate the status of the women allegedly held captive in monasteries, the US-based monitoring group said.

"All Christian Centres, organisations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them," said the statement.