Tagged: Egypt

Egyptian Christians living in fear for the future

(BBC) — At the ancient Monastery of St Mina in the desert sands of Egypt, a low concrete tomb holds the remains of Christians slaughtered for their faith – not in Roman times, but earlier this month.

They were among almost 50 people killed in coordinated attacks at two churches. The bombings – on Palm Sunday – were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Priests at the monastery say persecution is as old as the faith.

“The history of the Christians is like this,” said Father Elijah Ava Mina, his flowing white beard contrasting with his black robes. “Jesus told us ‘narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way’.”

The burial chamber now holds seven coffins but there is space for more. Future attacks look all but guaranteed. The Egyptian branch of IS has said Christians are its “favorite prey”.

The beleaguered minority accounts for an estimated 10% of the country’s population of 90m, which is predominantly Muslim.

Most Christians here belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which traces its roots to the Apostle Mark. IS struck at the historic heart of the faith. One of its targets was the oldest church in Egypt – St Mark’s Cathedral in the port of Alexandria.

When the bomber came to the wrought iron gates of the cathedral, Gergis Bakhoom had just left. Back at his tiny tailor’s shop the 82-year old got word of the explosion.

He rushed to hospital in time to witness his oldest son, Ibrahim, take his last breath.

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Egypt attack: Gunman targets Coptic Christians in church and shop

(BBC) — Nine people have been killed in two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, Egypt’s interior ministry has said.

Six civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested, it said.

It said the man had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed its “soldiers” carried out the church attack.

The interior ministry’s account differs from an earlier version of events given by Egypt’s health ministry.

The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of IS militants.

Security forces have reinforced checkpoints in place around the capital in response to the attacks.

They announced plans earlier this week to protect festivities around the New Year and, on 7 January, Coptic Christmas. They include the deployment of rapid-reaction forces, combat troops and jamming equipment.

According to the interior ministry statement, the first attack on Friday took place at a household appliances shop. Then the attacker headed to the Saint Mina Coptic church, where he attempted “to trespass the church’s perimeter security”.

“The security forces have dealt with the attacker and managed to arrest him after he was injured,” the ministry said.

But it said that seven people, including an auxiliary policeman, had been killed and four injured as the gunman opened fire at the church.

The attacker also had an explosive device, a machine gun and 150 rounds, it added.

The ministry suggested he was known to security services, saying he was “one of the most active terrorist elements and he carried out several terrorist attacks which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of policemen and civilians”.

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Death toll now 305 in Egypt mosque massacre, including 27 children

(UK TELEGRAPH) — At least 27 children were among the 305 people killed during a terrorist rampage at a Sinai mosque on Friday, the Egyptian government said as it updated the grim toll of one of the bloodiest attacks since September 11th.

Egypt’s attorney general said that up to 30 gunmen had taken part in the slaughter and that they carried the black banners of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) as they gunned down worshippers during Friday prayers.

Relatives of the victims told The Telegraph that some households in the village of Rawda had lost every single male member of their family. “There is no one in the village who didn’t lose at least one of his relatives,” said Mohammed Sleem, a university student who lost two cousins. .

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but suspicion has fallen heavily on Isil’s Egyptian affiliate, known as Sinai Province, which has carried out deadly attacks against Egyptian troops and Christians in the area.

The Egyptian military carried out airstrikes in north Sinai in response to the killings but it was not clear if they were acting on specific intelligence or simply trying to make a show of force to reassure the public.

Investigators said Saturday they were still finding bodies in the toilets and other areas as they combed through the grounds of mosque.

The village of Rawda is home to around 2,500 people and with almost all of the men at the mosque for prayers nearly every home was in mourning on Saturday.

“Some women lost all their male family members,” said Abdel Qader Mubarak, a village elder. “One woman lost her husband and two sons, and another lost three of her sons. There is no home in Rawda without a martyr. At least 100 families have at least one martyr or at minimum a wounded person.”

Mr Mubarak was outside the village on Friday but relayed what happened from what he had heard from survivors.

“It was during the Friday sermon, where all men were inside the mosque. About 20-30 armed men surrounded the mosque from outside and some of them entered the mosque. They shut the door behind them. They started to open fire with machine guns and hand grenades. Some of them shot through the windows of the mosque. It was random shooting. Then they left and wandered in the village, whoever was found in the village was shot, then they returned back to the mosque, whoever was found still alive was shot again,” he said.

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At least 235 killed in terror attack on Egypt mosque

(ECONOMIC TIMES) — At least 235 worshippers were killed and 109 others injured when heavily-armed militants bombed a mosque and opened fire on people attending Friday prayers in restive North Sinai region of Egypt, in the deadliest terror attack in the country.

The militants launched a targeted bomb and gun attack on the al-Rowda mosque in Al-Arish city during the Friday prayers, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

After the bomb ripped through the mosque, the gunmen on four off-road vehicles opened fire on the worshippers who tried to escape from the site after the explosion, it said.

At least 235 worshippers were killed and 109 others injured in the attack, Ahram Online said.

Pictures from the scene show rows of bloodied victims inside the mosque.

The blasts from improvised explosive devices caused considerable damage to the mosque, the website said.

One report said the target appeared to be supporters of the security forces who were praying at the mosque.

Local people are also quoted as saying that followers of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, regularly gathered at the mosque.

Islamist jihadist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS), see Sufis as heretics.

About 50 ambulances were rushed to the attack site to shift the injured to hospitals.

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54 Egyptian police killed in ambush by militants, officials say

(CHICAGO TRIBUNE) — At least 54 policemen, including 20 officers and 34 conscripts, were killed when a raid on a militant hideout southwest of Cairo escalated into an all-out firefight, authorities said Saturday, in one of the single deadliest attacks by militants against Egyptian security forces in recent years.

The officials said the exchange of fire began late Friday in the al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Giza province, about 135 kilometers (84 miles) southwest of Cairo.

The firefight began when security forces acting on intelligence moved against a militants’ hideout in the area. Backed by armored personnel carriers and led by senior counter-terrorism officers, the police contingent drew fire and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the officials.

The officials said what happened next is not clear, but indications suggest that the force ran out of ammunition and that the militants captured several policemen and later killed them. One officer managed to escape in his armored vehicle, they added.

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Militant blast, gun attack kill 18 police in Egypt’s Sinai

(FOREIGN DESK NEWS) — Militants attacked a security convoy in Egypt’s strife-torn Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 18 policemen in a blast and a gun battle on Monday, sources said – an assault claimed by Islamic State.

The attackers detonated an improvised explosive device and managed to destroy three armored vehicles and a signal-jamming vehicle near Arish, the capital of North Sinai province, the security and medical sources said.

The attack turned into a gunfight and the militants also opened fire on ambulance workers, injuring four, the sources told Reuters.

At least 18 policemen, two of them officers, died in the violence, and a brigadier general lost a leg in the blast, several sources at Arish hospital said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted by its news agency Amaq.

The Sunni Muslim militants are waging an insurgency in the rugged, thinly populated Sinai, aiming to topple the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Militants have killed hundreds of soldiers and police there since 2013, when the military, led by Sisi, ousted Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule.

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DHS chief: If you knew what I knew about terror, you’d ‘never leave the house’

(THE HILL) — By Mark Hensch

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday said the terror threat is worse than most realize, saying some people would “never leave the house” if they knew the truth.

“I was telling [Fox host] Steve [Doocy] on the way in here, if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning,” Kelly said on “Fox & Friends.”

He noted there were four major terror attacks in the last week — in England, Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia — “by generally the same groups.”

“It’s everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen almost here anytime.”

Masked gunmen opened fire on a group of Coptic Christians driving to a monastery in southern Egypt on Friday, killing 26 and injuring 25 more.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reportedly called an emergency meeting after the attack in Minya Province.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a Monday bombing after and Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that killed 22 and injured more than 100.

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Coptic churches are devastated by double ISIS bombers as 43 Christians are killed at two Palm Sunday services in Egypt

(DAILY MAIL) — At least 43 people were killed in bomb attacks on two Egyptian Coptic churches on Palm Sunday that included the seat of the Coptic Pope, the latest assault on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also injured more than 100 people and occurred a week before Coptic Easter, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit Egypt later this month.

The first bombing, in Tanta, a Nile Delta city about 100 km (60 miles) north of Cairo, tore through the inside of St. George Church during its Palm Sunday service, killing at least 27 people and injuring at least 78, the Ministry of Health said.

The second, carried out a few hours later by a suicide bomber in Alexandria, hit Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 16 people, including three police officers, and injuring 41, the ministry added.

Coptic Pope Tawadros, who had attended mass at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, was still in the building at the time of the explosion but was not harmed, the Interior Ministry said.

“These acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people,” Tawadros said later, according to state media.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned the attacks and summoned the National Defense Council to an urgent session.

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