Bloody New Year for Orthodox Copts in Egypt: Christians Slain in Church, on Train

Blood-splattered Coptic church wall in the wake of 23 Copts murdered by a suicide bomber during a New Year's service. (AFP:Mohammed Abed )
Christian shot dead in Egypt: sources
Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:06pm GMT
By Yasmine Saleh and Mohamed Abdellah
CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian Christian was shot dead on a train on Tuesday and at least three others were wounded, sources said, less than two weeks after a church was bombed in Egypt’s deadliest sectarian attack in years.

It was not immediately clear if the shooting was motivated by religious issues in the Muslim majority country, where tension between the two communities has risen after the January 1 bombing of a church in Alexandria that killed up to 23 people.

Christians, who make up a tenth of Egypt’s 79 million people, protested after the church bombing over what they said was the government’s failure to protect them.

Mariam Salah, a doctor in Minya, south of the capital, told Reuters her hospital was treating five wounded Christians. She said one of them told her a sixth Christian was shot dead. A security source confirmed one had been shot dead.

The official news agency said one person was killed and five others wounded in a “random shooting” on a train travelling between Cairo and Assiut in southern Egypt. The report did not identify whether those hurt or killed were Christians.

An Interior Ministry official told Reuters that a suspect was being questioned and that the authorities were also investigating those targeted in the incident. He could not confirm if the dead and injured were Christians.

The January 1 church bombing was not typical of the sectarian violence that sometimes erupts over issues such as building churches and relationships between members of the two religions.

Local rows or vendettas between families from the two communities have sometimes flared up into attacks or even shootings, particularly in southern Egypt.

Early last year, six Christians, as well as a Muslim policeman, were killed in a drive-by shooting at a church. Some linked that shooting to a rape incident.

Egypt recalled its ambassador to the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI demanded that certain countries, including Egypt, do more to ensure Christians can practise their faith without fear. (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters)