Egypt se­cu­rity forces kill 19 sus­pects linked to Cop­tic at­tack

Tehran Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Egyp­tian se­cu­rity forces have killed 19 peo­ple linked to a deadly at­tack on Cop­tic Chris­tians, ac­cord­ing to the in­te­rior min­istry.

The sus­pects were killed in a gun­fight in the desert of Minya prov­ince in cen­tral Egypt af­ter se­cu­rity forces pur­sued them, the min­istry said in a state­ment on Sun­day.

“The ter­ror­ist el­e­ments opened fire on the (se­cu­rity) forces who re­sponded,” the state­ment said.

Those killed were part of the group that killed seven Cop­tic Chris­tian pil­grims in the same prov­ince on Fri­day, the min­istry said. The Is­lamic State in Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL/ Daesh) Tak­firi ter­ror­ist group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, al­though it pro­vided no ev­i­dence of its in­volve­ment.

Fri­day’s at­tack was the lat­est in a string of as­saults against the mi­nor­ity Cop­tic com­mu­nity.

Armed men opened fire on buses car­ry­ing pil­grims to the Monastery of St. Sa­muel in Minya prov­ince, killing seven peo­ple and leav­ing 18 wounded.

On Satur­day, hun­dreds gath­ered at the Prince Tadros church in Minya, a city some 260km south of the cap­i­tal, Cairo, to bury six mem­bers of the same fam­ily who were shot dead in the at­tack. Among them were a 15-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.

The sev­enth vic­tim, an Angli­can bus driver, was buried on Fri­day evening in a vil­lage out­side Minya.

On Sun­day, Pope Fran­cis said he was pained over the at­tack on the pil­grims.

“I ex­press my pain af­ter the ter­ror­ist at­tack which two days ago hit the Cop­tic Or­tho­dox church in Egypt,” Fran­cis said in Saint Peter’s.

The Copts are an Or­tho­dox de­nom­i­na­tion who make up an es­ti­mated 10 to 15 per­cent of Egypt’s more than 90 mil­lion peo­ple, al­though there is no for­mal re­li­gious cen­sus to de­ter­mine an ex­act num­ber.

They are the Mid­dle East’s largest Chris­tian com­mu­nity and have long com­plained of per­se­cu­tion and in­suf­fi­cient pro­tec­tion.

In De­cem­ber 2017, a gun­man killed 11 peo­ple at a church and a Chris­tian-owned shop near Cairo.

More than 100 Copts have been killed in such at­tacks since 2011, ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press news agency.

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