Qamishli, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ephrem II escapes a suicide attack (photos)
A suicide bomber struck during the celebrations for the Orthodox Pentecost and commemoration of 1915 genocide. Three people were killed in the attack, responsible for security in the area. At present no official claims for attack. The condemnation of the Christian communities around the world.
Qamishli (AsiaNews) - The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Efrem II Karim escaped a suicide attack by a bomber who blew himself up during a commemoration in memory of the Ottoman genocide against the Assyrian Christians (and Armenians) in Turkey at the beginning 1900. The attack took place yesterday morning at 11 am, during celebrations for the Orthodox Pentecost, in the Church of St. Gabriel in the Al Wusta district, Qamishli, north-eastern Syria. The toll is four dead, including Kurds and Christians, and several wounded.
According to sources of the Federation of Arameans (Syriacs), the target of the attack was the patriarch of the Syriac Church Efrem II. During the celebration, the 51 year old head of the Syriac Orthodox community blessed a memorial of the genocide monument, better known as the Sayfo massacre (the sword).
Thousands of faithful had gathered to participate in the celebration and commemoration. In response to the attack, the Aramean Christian militias of Sootoro immediately mobilized, surrounding the area.
Local witnesses claim that the attacker blew himself up outside the building, being killed along with three other people. The victims are three guards of the Assyrian Sutoro security forces. At least five people were wounded.
There are no official claims of the attack, which was probably a jihadist plan. In the past a suicide bomber loyal to the Islamic State (IS) struck in the area. However, other hypotheses cannot be excluded given the strong political significance of the celebration - the tensions still present today surrounding the issue of the genocide - and the strong Kurdish presence in an area disputed with government forces.
Yesterday's was the fourth attack against the Assyrian community in Qamishli in the last six months. On May 22, an IS suicide bomber last struck in the same district, killing at least five people three of them Assyrian Christian. On January 24, two explosions targeted the Assyrian Qamishli district, killing three worshipers and wounding another 20. Finally, three bombs targeted local businesses on December 30 last year, killing 16 people.
Different personalities of the Church and civil society have strongly condemned yesterday's attack, aimed at one of the most important personalities of the Syrian Orthodox community. The Federation of the Arameans (Syriacs) points out in a note that it is the responsibility of the "international community" to protect the Aramean who have "remained in their homeland." "We must not ignore - the statement continues - the heart-rending cries and demands of a civilization endangered and at the same time, the people of Syria." Hundreds of thousands of Aramedi "have already left their lands," the statement concludes, a people who still struggle "for recognition and survival."
In an official statement sent to AsiaNews the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) speaks of "brutal suicide attack" perpetrated by " Islamic extremist militants " who wanted to target the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church. "The deadly cocktail of terrorism - the statement says - is spreading fast from the Middle East to Asia and Africa, without encountering any opposition." All while the United Nations and other agencies born with the aim of promoting peace are floundering in "political games" instead of "fighting the monster."