IN EGYPTIAN CHURCH
“There is no god but God and the Messiah is God!”
Gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery, killing at least 29 people and wounding 24, with many children among the victims.
The Islamic State said yesterday that its fighters had carried out the shooting on the eve of Ramadan.
“A security unit from the soldiers of the caliphate set up a checkpoint to ambush tens of Christians headed for the Saint Samuel monastery west of the city of Minya,” it said.
Witnesses said three vehicles were attacked. A bus and a car transporting children and families were the initial targets.
The gunmen fired at the windows, then boarded the vehicles, shooting dead all the men and firing at the feet of the women and children. They also took all the gold the women were carrying. Some children were killed.
When one of the gunmen’s vehicles had a flat tyre, they stopped a truck carrying Christian workers, shot them and took their truck.
One of the gunmen had a camera, indicating that the killers might release footage of the attack in the future.
Safwat Bushra, a witness from Edwa — a small town which, like Dayr Jarnous, is home to a sizable Christian minority — said he saw the shooting from the road where he was driving that morning.
He said police at a checkpoint near the incident did not rush in to fight the gunmen, and also did not allow an ambulance to pass the checkpoint.
“The officers and policemen at the checkpoints are known to have Islamist sympathies. Or at least, they hate Copts,” he said inside the church.
Bushra was so enraged he had to be told by priests to calm down or leave. A 3-year-old and a 4year-old were killed, he said.
Seven of the 29 Christians killed came from here.
Bishop Agathon, bishop of the Maghagha and Edwa diocese, led the funeral prayers, which were spoken in Coptic, the last living descendant of the ancient Egyptian language.
Women dressed in black wept and wailed, some even slapped themselves on the face. One woman, whose father was killed, had a nervous breakdown and had to be carried away.
Even the boy and girl scouts charged with organising the prayers and responsible for security in the church were crying.
“Did they deserve this? They were just going to work and then were killed,” said one woman, referring to the Christian workers.
“God will avenge us. We will not do anything violent because we are Christians and love is in our hearts. It is enough that they will go to hell,” she said. Reuters
Relatives mourning over coffins of victims during the funeral of people killed in an attack on the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Minya Province, central Egypt, on Friday. (Inset) Relatives of victims overcome with emotion at the funeral.