Attacker blew himself up outside the Greek Orthodox Virgin Mary church

Four people have been killed in a suicide bombing in a Christian quarter of Damascus, according to Syria’s state-run television network.

The attack took place in the predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Bab Sharqi in central Damascus, outside the Greek Orthodox Virgin Mary church.

Officials told the Associated Press that the attacker used an explosive belt to blow himself up.

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Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television channel said the attack appeared to target a nearby post of the National Defence Forces, which have been fighting against rebels.

But churches have previously been targeted in the cities of Aleppo and Homs. Two bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, were kidnapped in northern Syria earlier this year and remain missing.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights more than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict.

Ten per cent of Syria’s population of 23 million are Christian, but many have fled the country since fighting broke out in March 2011.

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