Jesuit laments car bomb attack in Homs, Syria: 'young people were deliberately targeted'

"Where is the reaction from the rest of the world? After the attacks in Paris all eyes were on France. But here? As far as I am aware, there has not been any reaction by anybody. Not a word. Only silence. Syria and the daily sufferings of its people are forgotten."

By Oliver Maksan

“Most of them were students at the university, young people who had not left the city. So what sort of message does this attack send out now?  I believe they were deliberately targeted.”

Such were the words of Syrian Jesuit Father Hilal Ziad, commenting on the Jan. 21 midday car bomb explosion that killed 15 and wounded 50 others in the center of the ancient town of Homs. The killing was indiscriminate, and there were Christians among both the dead and the wounded.

The priest told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “the attack was staged very close to our church and our aid center. We do not know who was behind it, but it is a tragedy. The pictures of the attack are horrifying. We are visiting the families of the victims and trying to comfort them. But what can anyone say in such a situation? We are all deeply saddened and devastated.”

Homs, Syria in ruins

Newly under Syrian government control, Homs, the third-largest city in Syria, was for several years the site of a bloody stand-off between the regime and rebel forces of various stripes, both secular and Islamist. Father Ziad is among a group of clergy caring for Christians who remained stranded in the town’s center. In April of 2014, a fellow Jesuit, Dutch Father Frans van der Lugt was assassinated by an unknown gunman.

In the past year alone, 80,000 Christians were forced to leave their homes. Thanks to the aid centres run by Father Ziad and his fellow clergy, food, clothing and items of basic hygiene have been distributed to thousands of victims, regardless of their religion or political outlook.

Father Ziad expressed dismay at the lack of any reaction on the part of the world media, “Where is the reaction from the rest of the world? After the attacks in Paris all eyes were on France. But here? As far as I am aware, there has not been any reaction by anybody. Not a word. Only silence. Syria and the daily sufferings of its people are forgotten.”

In October 2014, a double bomb blast killed 50 people. It is estimated that some 200,000 people have died since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, among them many thousands of Christians.

ACN photo: Homs in ruins

 

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