(BWA) – First Baptist Church of Baghdad in Iraq was damaged by an explosion about one third of a mile from the church building.

The incident occurred on the morning of Jan. 26 after a suicide bomber drove an 18-wheel truck with explosives into a crowded intersection, killing several bystanders.

The pastor, workers and children at a kindergarten school at the church were not physically harmed, but the Baptist church building suffered serious damage.

First Baptist Church of Baghdad is a congregation belonging to a small group, the Baptist Church of Baghdad, which is affiliated with the European Baptist Federation (EBF). The EBF is one of six regional fellowships of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).

Two members of the Iraqi congregation attended an EBF Youth Conference in Elstal, Germany, less than two weeks earlier, from Jan. 15-17, according to Tony Peck, BWA regional secretary for Europe and general secretary of the EBF. The EBF includes churches in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

“This is the reality of what they, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the whole Iraqi people, face daily,” Peck said. “We are praying for peace and the ending of the violence in Iraq, but also for the clear and courageous witness of Christian believers in these troubled times.”

The following day, Iraqi insurgents linked with Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for bombings that took place at three Baghdad hotels that killed at least 36 people.

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