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Sunday, 28 May 2017

29 dead, 11 injured in attack in Minya targeting Coptic Christians

Terror attack in Minya kills 29 Christians, injures 11: Terrorists dressed in paramilitary fatigues and carrying firearms attacked a small convoy of day-trippers heading to the monastery St. Samuel the Confessor on Friday outside of the city of Minya. The death toll has been confirmed by a cabinet statement.

Children among the dead: Some of the victims were reportedly children, with eyewitnesses telling Reuters that a three-year-old and a four-year-old were among the dead. Bishop Agathon, Bishop of the Maghagha and Edwa Diocese, said three vehicles carrying a group of people were attacked.

Timeline of a massacre: A bus and a car carrying women and children were stopped on the road by three vehicles with armed men. The New York Times reports that “Claiming to be security officers, the gunmen ordered the passengers to get out. They separated the men from the women and children, and instructed them to surrender their mobile phones. They told the men to recite the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith. When the men refused, the gunmen opened fire.” A statement from Maghagha Diocese confirmed the terrorists’ demands that the victims recite the shahada, while media reports claim that the attack on a third vehicle — this one with workers heading to the monastery — came after one of the terrorists’ vehicles got a flat tire.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday through its Aamaqpropaganda outlet, the Associated Press reports. This would be the fourth attack by the group targeting Christians since December, with the AP putting the total casualties of the four attacks at 104 mostly Coptic Christians.

A manhunt in Qena is focused on three perpetrators in specific, Interior Ministry sources told Al Shorouk on Saturday, and some of those suspected of being involved in the Minya attack were already on police wanted list on suspicion they played a role in the Palm Sunday bombings.

Protection for all convoys heading to religious sites: Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar issued a request that all planned group trips be run by the ministry so that armed protection could be arranged.

The Egyptian Armed Forces struck terrorist training camps in Libya on Friday andSaturday. The airstrikes were prompted by an intelligence finding that the militants responsible for the Minya attack had received training there.“The air strikes led to the destruction of the planned targets, which included concentrated areas for the training of terrorist elements that participated in the planning and implementation of the Minya attack,” according to a statement from the Egyptian Armed Forces on Saturday. State television said on Friday the strikes focused on the eastern Libyan city of Derna. Six airstrikes were reported to have taken place on Friday, Reuters reports, and forces commanded by Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan general close to Egypt, have reportedly taken part in the strikes.

International tie-in: The man believed to have been the suicide bomber who attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last week is also believed to have received training in Libya.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi announced the strikes during a televised address to thenation on Friday evening (watch, runtime: 9:42). The president said Egypt will not hesitate to pursue terrorists beyond the nation’s borders and said the terror attack designed was to sow discord between Egypt’s Muslim and Christian communities. El Sisi implied that the state has been on alert and had anticipated attacks on the back of an influx of Daesh terrorists fleeing defeat in Syria. He gave an honest account of the threat they pose from Libya, stating that the Egyptian armed forces had destroyed over 300 vehicles that had crossed over from Libya to attack Egypt in the last three months alone. He called on the international community to punish countries that actively aid terrorists.

A message to Donald Trump: During his speech on Friday evening, El Sisi sent a direct message to US President Donald Trump, urging him to press forth with his global strategy to combat terrorism and lead the fight.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail traveled to Minya to visit with victims’ families, according to a statement from the cabinet.

INTERNATIONAL REAX- “America stands with President El Sisi and all the Egyptian people today, and always, as we fight to defeat this common enemy,” said US President Trump in a statement following the attacks on Friday. “America also makes clear to its friends, allies, and partners that the treasured and historic Christian Communities of the Middle East must be defended and protected. The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished.”

Trump was joined by host of other world leaders. Apart from Egypt’s close allies in the GCC (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain), the Vatican issued the condolences of Pope Francis, who also declared at a clergy meeting in Genoa that there are more Christian martyrs today than in ancient times, reports the Associated Press. EU and Scandinavian allies including Germany and the United Kingdom also came out to express their condolences along with China. Turkey and terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah also came out with statements condemning the attacks.

MEDIA REAX- Both the foreign and local press focused on the anger of Coptsfollowing the attacks. Al Masry Al Youm is running two pieces on a protest which took place on Friday, where Christian mourners reportedly called for the sacking of Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar. Police reportedly called the protest off. Reuters is that grief turned to anger on Saturday at prayers for the victims. Some expressed their doubt over the state’s ability to protect them. While Reuters is at least on the ground, we get only overblown sensationalism from the opinion pages of the New York Times. Samuel Tadros suggests that the possibility of an exodus by Copts from Egypt in a manner of the Jews after the founding of Israel. Even the Wall Street Journal is noting that pro-Sisi sentiment in the Christian community is shifting in its over-simplistic five part tutorial on “Who are the Coptic Christians.”

The Libya connection is being more closely looked at by the Associated Press, which ran a lengthy piece on the history of militancy in Libya following the fall of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011. The newswire is a series of explainer pieces on Coptic Christians, including a timeline of attacks on them, and tracing instances of “modern persecution.’ Meanwhile, the Financial Times is drawing the same conclusions as the president, running quotes by analysts on how attacking Christians is simply the standard Daesh sectarian playbook.

From the finger-wagging department: Today’s preachy condescension is brought to you by Fox News, with Lela Gelbert is running the line that the government has not done much to protect Christians and maybe will start now.

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