“Young people were targeted”
Following a bloody terrorist outrage in Homs, Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal appeals for prayers for Syria
Oliver Maksan, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin
Montreal/Homs – Friday January 23, 2015 – Following a bloody terrorist outrage in Homs on Wednesday, Syrian Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal lamented the fact that the victims were overwhelmingly young people. “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,” said Father Ziad on Thursday. He was speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
“The killing was indiscriminate”
It was on Wednesday around midday when a car bomb was set off in a busy street in the centre of the town. According to Father Ziad, 15 people were killed in the attack, while another 50 or more were injured, some of them gravely. The killing was indiscriminate, and there were Christians among both the dead and the wounded. “The attack was staged very close to our church and our aid centre. 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 ourselves are all deeply saddened and devastated.”
Father Ziad appealed for prayers for his war-torn country – “I call on all people, and especially on the benefactors of ACN, to pray for Syria and in particular for the victims of this terrible attack and their families.”
Father Ziad expressed that he was particularly dismayed at the lack of reaction on the part of the world media, “Where is the reaction in 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.”
200,000 people believed to have lost their lives
Homs is the third largest city in Syria. This strategically important town was fought over for years by government and opposition forces. Last year, it once again fell under the control of the Syrian government, but it continues to be rocked again and again by terror attacks.
Most recently in October 2014, when more than 50 people died in a double bomb blast owing to the fighting over the past year, a large number of the city’s inhabitants have been forced to flee their homes, among them more than 80,000 Christians.
According to some estimates, over 200,000 people are believed to have lost their lives since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. ACN is supporting Father Ziad in his humanitarian work on behalf of the suffering people of Homs and its surrounding area. Thanks to the aid centres run by Father Ziad food, clothing and items of basic hygiene have been distributed to thousands of victims, regardless of their religion or political outlook.