The head of the Syrian Orthodox Church had a narrow escape on Sunday when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a commemoration service which he attended.
Three people were killed in north-east Syria, when the bomber attacked an event, which marked the massacre of Christians more than a century ago, amongst them was Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, AsiaNews reports.
According to security services, the patriarch was the target of the attack. The bomb exploded in the city of Qamishli as locals gathered to commemorate the deaths of tens of thousands of Christians by the Ottoman army in 1915, also known as the Safyo Massacre.
One photographer present at the event told english.manoramaonline.com that he witnessed pieces of flesh lying next to damaged cars.
A security official said: “The suicide attacker tried to enter the hall where people were gathered but was stopped by local security forces, and he detonated himself among them." The security forces present belonged to the Christian militia Sotoro, which is based in the North east of Syria.
“Three Sotoro members were killed and five wounded," the security source said. One Sotoro member reported that the suicide bomber “detonated himself near our checkpoint after he couldn’t reach his real target, Patriarch Ignatius".
Positioned along the border with Turkey, Qamishli has been regularly targeted by suicide bombings, many of which ISIS has taken responsibility for.
Control of the city is split between Kurdish militia and pro-government fighters.