|Destroyed Church in Homs, Syria, back in 2012 |
Islamic State blows up Syrian church on Easter Sunday
Islamic State insurgents blew up an 80-year-old church in Syria's northeastern province of Hassaka on Easter Sunday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.
SANA, which did not report any casualties, said the militants had planted explosives inside the Church of the Virgin Mary in Tel Nasri, an Assyrian village in an area where Christian and Kurdish militia have been battling Islamic State. Islamic State controls the village, the news agency said.
Pope Francis hails Christians as 'the martyrs of today'
Pope Francis called on the world to give tangible help to persecuted Christians, highlighting the plight of people he described as modern "martyrs" after nearly 150 people were killed by Islamist militants in Kenya.
Addressing crowds in bright sunshine at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican after four days of special Easter services, the pontiff listed the evils inflicted on people for their faith and exhorted the international community to act.
"These are our martyrs of today. We can say that there are more of them now than there were in the early centuries. I hope the international community does not look on, mute and inert, at such an unacceptable crime," Francis said.
In Kenya on Thursday, gunmen from the al Qaeda-aligned group al Shabaab targeted Christians for execution after storming the Garissa University College campus. [T]he massacre resonated throughout the Catholic Church's weekend commemoration of Jesus's crucifixion.
Francis has expressed alarm about the targeting of Christians for their faith, and decried incidents including the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics has said the international community would be justified in using military force as a last resort to stop "unjust aggression" perpetrated by Islamic State militants.[Jerusalem Post]