Coptic Christian Priest Killed in Egypt’s North Sinai By Gunmen
Egyptian Streets, June 30, 2016 (Many thanks to Fr Ignatius for sharing this via Facebook.):
Unidentified gunmen, believed to be members of the terrorist group Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis, shot and killed a Coptic Christian priest in Al-Arish, North Sinai on Thursday morning.
According to a statement released by Egypt’s Ministry of Interior, the Priest of Mar Guirguis Church in Al-Arish, Rafael Moussa, was killed in the industrial part of El-Arish where he had gone to have his car checked by a mechanic.
The death of the Priest, which came on the third anniversary of June 30 protests that ousted former president Mohammed Morsi, was confirmed by the Coptic Church, who released a statement mourning the Priest as a martyr.
Later on Thursday, at least one police officer was killed in El-Arish when a bomb exploded, reported Al-Ahram. Four other security personnel were also injured in the explosion.
North Sinai has experienced a wave of violence and terrorism since the ouster of Morsi in July 2013.
An estimated 2100 people were killed in North Sinai in 2015, including roughly 1800 described by the military as “terrorists,” 150 civilians, 40 police officers and conscripts, and 140 military personnel. Many civilians are direct victims of militant attacks or are killed by often unidentified shelling. The year 2016 has seen a rise in both attacks and counter-terrorism operations with up to 300 militants killed since the start of the year.
Then there is this report:
Islamic State kills Christian priest and a policeman in Egypt’s North SinaiYa Libnan, June 30, 2016 (This report also features a video in Arabic of Fr Rafael conducting a Bible Study):
Islamist militants gunned down aChristian priest in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as he was fixing his car, the Interior Ministry and the Coptic Orthodox Church said on Thursday.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened more attacks in the future.
Father Rafael Moussa of the Mar Girgis church in Arish, capital of the North Sinai province, was getting his car fixed when the gunmen shot him, the ministry said in a statement. He was on his way back from prayer, the church said.
“Islamic State soldiers were able to successfully target the priest Moussa Azmi, known as Rafael, who fights Islam,” the group said in a statement.
Orthodox Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people and are the Middle East’s biggest Christian community. They have long complained of discrimination.
In a separate attack in Arish, one policeman was killed and three wounded when an improvised bomb exploded as their convoy drove near a police station, the Interior Ministry said.
Islamic State also claimed responsibility for that attack.
Egypt is battling an insurgency that gained pace after its military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement, in mid-2013 following mass protests against his rule.
Thursday is the third anniversary of the mass protests which started on June 30, 2013 and led to Mursi’s ouster.
The insurgency, mounted by Islamic State’s Egyptian branch, Sinai Province, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police and has started to attack Western targets within the country.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former military chief who led Mursi’s ouster, describes Islamist militancy as an existential threat to Egypt, an ally of the United States.
Islamic State controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and has a presence in Libya, which borders Egypt.