(CNSNews.com) – A suicide bomber reportedly killed three people Sunday in an attack in the city of Qamishli during an event commemorating the 101st anniversary of the massacre of Assyrian Christians by the Ottoman army in 1915.
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II was presiding over the event and was unharmed.
"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," a source at the scene told told AFP.
A member of the Christian militia Sotoro in Syria, which was doing security for the event, told AFP that the bomber "detonated himself near our checkpoint after he couldn't reach his real target, Patriarch Ignatius."
A Demand for Action (ADFA), a group that advocates for the protection of Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, posted a comment from Patriarch Ignatius following the attack.
"I would like to see Christians remaining here in their homeland of their ancestors. The blood of our martyrs has been mixed with the soil of this land, Bethnahrin for many centuries," he wrote.
ADFA Executive Director Steve Oshana said violent incidents have become "too common and are a reminder of the dangers our people face on a daily basis.”
"When a place like Qamishly, which in many ways represents the very soul of our existence in our ancestral homeland, comes under attack it underscores the need for us to support our local security forces,” Oshana said according to Christian Today.