Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

La vie en gris: The story behind France's famed rooftops

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Olympic refugee team goes for gold

Read more

FOCUS

Taiwan's nuclear dumping ground

Read more

ENCORE!

Greece: Creativity in a time of crisis

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French growth grinds to a halt over strikes

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Norway will 'move mountains' for Nordic neighbour Finland

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French media ban on naming jihadists: 'Good intention, bad result'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Gigantic snails are a delicacy in Ivory Coast

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande and Valls tell Trump: 'France is still France!'

Read more

Middle east

Drive-by shooting kills at least six after Coptic Christmas mass

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-07

Egyptian security forces said at least six Coptic Christians were killed in southern Egypt in a drive-by shooting as they were leaving their church after the midnight Orthodox Christmas eve mass.

AFP - Attackers in a car raked a crowd of shoppers in a south Egypt town with gunfire, killing a policemen and six Coptic Christians on the eve of their Christmas celebrations, a security official said on Thursday.

The drive-by shooting took place late Wednesday in the southern Egyptian town of Nagaa Hammadi as Copts were preparing for Christmas which they celebrate January 7 along with other Orthodox communities, the official said.

Witnesses however gave a conflicting account of the attack, saying the gunmen struck as worshippers emerged from midnight mass at the main church in Nagaa Hammadi.

"Three unidentified individuals in a car opened fire on Christians in a shopping district as they were making purchases for Christmas," the security official said, as cited by state-run MENA news agency.

Nine other Copts were wounded in the shooting, he added.

The gunmen also opened fire "in front of a convent located in an rural area" near the town, in the province of Qana, 700 kilometres (435 miles) south of Cairo, the official said.

Witnesses, cited by local officials, said the main gunman, a Muslim, is wanted by police and linked the incident to the abduction of a 12-year-old Muslim girl in November who was allegedly raped by a Coptic youth.

"The first elements of the investigation, based on testimony of people on the ground, indicate that the main shooter is a town resident identified as Mohammed Ahmed Hussein, who is wanted by the police," one official said.

In November, hundreds of Muslim protesters torched Christian-owned shops in the town of Farshut, near Nagaa Hammadi, and attacked a police station where they believed the suspected rapist was being held.

That incident was the latest in a string of sectarian tensions in 2009 between Muslims and Egypt's Copts -- the Middle East's largest Christian community who represent roughly 10 percent of Egypt's 80-million population.

Copts have complained over the years of frequent discrimination, harassment and that they are the targets of sectarian attacks. They also allege they are overlooked in top jobs in the army, police and judiciary.

On Wednesday, the head of the Coptic minority, Pope Shenuda III, led a Christmas midnight mass at the Abbassiya church in Cairo which was attended by thousands of worshippers.

Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who has been widely tipped as being the next head of state, was among several prominent figures who attended the mass, an AFP photographer said.

Date created : 2010-01-07

  • EGYPT

    Policeman killed, Palestinians wounded during protest of Gaza tunnel blockade

    Read more

  • MIDEAST CONFLICT

    At least 55 hurt as activists clash with Egyptian police over Gaza relief convoy

    Read more

COMMENT(S)