Diyarbakir, Turkey (AINA) -- The Turkish campaign against Kurdish PKK party in southeast Turkey has reached St. Mary church, an Assyrian church Diyarbakir, which has sustained damage from heavy bombardment. A portion of the wall surrounding the church has fallen. The priest of the church, Father Yusuf Akbulut, is sheltered with his family in his home, which is connected to the church, and he states the church is under fire.
In a telephone interview with AssyriaTV, based in Sweden, explosions can be heard in the background while Father Akbulut speaks.
The Assyrian population around the church is scrambling to take shelter as heavy fighting between Turkish and PKK fighters continues.
Father Akbulut contacted the police but he was told the police are unable to enter the neighborhood of the church because of the heavy fighting.
"I would not be able to live with myself if I abandoned the Church," says Father Akbulut, "it is a symbol for us Assyrians and a symbol for all Christianity. This is a holy place."
In November, 2000 Turkey arrested Father Akbulut for affirming the Turkish genocide of Assyrians in World War One (AINA 2000-11-23), which claimed the lives of 750,000 Assyrians (75%), as well as 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Greeks (see Assyrian Genocide 100).