At least 38 people were killed and 70 others wounded in a series of attacks in al-Dura, a neighborhood in the southern part of Baghdad, targeting a church and a market, Iraqi police said.

A car bomb exploded outside the Church of the Virgin Mary as Christmas Mass was ending, killing 27 people and wounding 56 others, police spokesmen told Efe.

The majority of the victims were Christians who were leaving the church as the bomb exploded.

Three bombs, meanwhile, exploded at a market in al-Dura, killing 11 people, wounding 14 others and causing extensive damage.

Al-Dura is a majority Sunni neighborhood that has a large Christian community and several churches.

Iraqi Christians have become a target in recent years for terrorist attacks, such as the October 2010 attack on a Baghdad church that left nearly 60 people dead.

Some 2 million Iraqis out of a total population of around 30 million were Christians in the 1980s.

Iraq's Christian community has seen its numbers drop as many people emigrate due to the sectarian violence in the country.

Iraq is dealing with a wave of violence that left 948 people dead in November, with the majority of the victims civilians, officials said. EFE