ISIS is continuing its attack on Christians in Iraq after blowing up the Virgin Mary Church in Mosul, which had once served as a sanctuary for the remaining Christians in the region.
A source said the attack took place this weekend in Iraq’s Nineveh province. Sources say the group used improvised explosive devices to blow up the church, which had been used by the terrorist group to house some leaders of European, Arab, and East Asian origin.
“On Thursday evening, elements of the ISIS group detonated the Virgin Mary Church north of Mosul using improvised explosive devices,” a source told IraqiNews.
“The ISIS elements used the church as their headquarters for leaders of European, Arab and East Asian nationalities to live there.”
“The explosion destroyed the Church entirely,” the source added.
Last year, before ISIS had overtaken Mosul, Iraqi security forces stood guard outside the church in an effort to protect it and the Christians there. But the city later fell into the hands of ISIS, with many of the Christians fleeing the region.
The attack was the latest action against Christians, who have become a popular target for the radical Islamist group. Last week, ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians because they were believers in Jesus Christ.
After hearing the news, Pope Francis said the men killed were “martyrs who belong to all Christians.”
“Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: ‘Jesus, help me!’ They were killed simply because they were Christians. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a witness that cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.”
Pope Francis urged his fellow Christians to use the tragedy as a way to bring people together rather than divide them.
“As we recall these brothers and sisters who were killed only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage one another to go forward with this ecumenism that is emboldening us, the ecumenism of blood.”
ISIS has targeted Christians many other times since taking over large portions of Iraq and Syria. The group has often killed Christians and targeted churches. A report from last year indicated that the militant group was looting churches of their valuables and then turning them into torture chambers.
“ISIS has a stated goal to wipe out Christianity,” said Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice and the author of Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore.
“This why they are crucifying Christians — including children — destroying churches and selling artifacts. The fact is, this group will stop at nothing to raise funds for its terrorist mission.”
But Christians are far from the only target of ISIS. The group has targeted any groups not fitting their rigid interpretation of the Sunni faith, killing countless Muslims that do not fall in line with their views.