'We will send jihadists straight to hell': Lebanese Christian women take up arms after deadly suicide bombings

All women in Qaa have reportedly begun carrying weapons.Reuters

Christian women in Lebanon are arming themselves in the wake of a series of devastating suicide attacks on Monday.

Five people were killed and more than two dozen wounded after eight bombers blew themselves up in the predominantly Christian village of Qaa, a few kilometres from the border with Syria, on June 27. At least two of the attacks took place in the evening outside the Mar Elias church, where mourners had gathered for a vigil in honour of those killed earlier in the day.

According to Arabya English, the bombings "triggered fear and panic among Qaa's residents", and photos released by Reuters on Tuesday showed Christian women holding guns to protect themselves from future attacks.

"We will not allow Lebanon to become a new Iraq. We will not flee, we have weapons and are ready to protect ourselves," one woman from Qaa told Assyrian campaign group A Demand for Action (ADFA).

She said that all women in the village have decided to arm themselves. "Jihadists think they go to hell if they are killed by women, we will send them straight to hell," she added.

The priest of Mar Elias church, Rev Elian Nasrallah, told the New York Times via telephone on Monday that the residents of Qaa were "living in terror".

"People are stuck in their houses, not daring to go out and fearing more suicide bombers," he said.

Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Rahal of Baalbek told Catholic News Service: "We pray, we pray, we pray for the dead, for the injured... We are here for the families and for their children".

The Archbishop travelled to Qaa after the first suicide bombing on Monday, and insisted that Christians would remain in the region "despite all that has happened".

"We are here and we are here to stay," he added.

President of the Syriac League of Lebanon, Habib Afram, told ADFA the world needed to wake up to "the growing Islamic anger against Christians.

"This is not the first time and not the last time," he said. "For how long is the west going to ignore the fact of the ongoing genocide in Syria and Iraq that terrorists now also try to extend to Lebanon?"

No group has yet claimed responsibility, but officials suspect ISIS was behind the attacks.