|A bomb blast in Kirkuk, Iraq damaged a church building.|
On August 15 at 1:20 a.m., an explosive device tore through one of the walls of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Mar Afram. Photos show bricks from the wall strewn across the church floor. One of the metal doors has been twisted open.
Thankfully, no Christians were killed in the attack, but police have announced higher protective measures for Kirkuk’s churches.
Abuna Gourgis Alyes, a priest from Mar Afram church, said that this attack was the third assault on his church in the past five years. There were minor attacks in 2006 and 2008, but this last one has been the most devastating.
Another pastor visiting the church was overwhelmed by the destruction.
“Now I am here and seeing it with my own eyes.... They have to demolish the church and rebuild it,” said the pastor.
Abuna Alyes said the incident’s worst repercussion is that many will view this attack as the final straw that leads them to leave Kirkuk. Since January, 10 families from Mar Afram have already fled the area.
About 334,000 Christians remain in Iraq, less than half of their number in 1991. The violence has caused hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, both Muslim and Christian, to leave the country, and many more are displaced inside Iraq, particularly in Kurdistan.
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