Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

FOCUS

Many Turks angry over Syrian refugee situation

Read more

  • In pictures: Debris and devastation at Air Algérie Flight AH5017 crash scene

    Read more

  • ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    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)