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Palestinian group denies role in church attack on New Year's Day

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-24

The Palestinian Army of Islam militant group has denied responsibility for a New Year's Day attack on a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria that killed more than 20 people, rejecting claims made by the government in Cairo earlier on Sunday.

AFP - The Palestinian Army of Islam militant group on Sunday denied involvement in a deadly attack on an Egyptian church, rejecting accusations by the Cairo government.
              
"The Army of Islam has no relation, whether close or distant, to the attack on the Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt," a spokesman for the group, who gave his name as Abu Muthanna, told AFP.
              
"The Mossad (Israeli intelligence) was responsible for the attack," he said.
              
Earlier Sunday, Egypt's Interior Minister Habib al-Adly announced that the small Palestinian group was behind the New Year's church attack in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, which killed more than 20 people.
              
He made the accusation in a speech to mark Police Day, carried live on Egyptian state television.
              
President Hosni Mubarak took to the stage to congratulate the police "for finding the perpetrators of the terrorist act in Alexandria."
              
On January 1, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a church in the Mediterranean city as worshippers emerged from a New Year's Eve mass.
              
Egypt's official MENA news agency on Sunday put the death toll at 23, with scores more wounded. Previously, the death toll stood at 21.
              
The Palestinian group accused of perpetrating the attack is a small outfit that espouses Salafist ideals, an austere form of Sunni Islam that seeks a return to the practices of the faith's early days.
              
Along with other tiny Salafist factions in Gaza, the Army of Islam is believed to have sought or be seeking ties with Al-Qaeda, and has clashed with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.
              
Hamas reportedly cut ties with the Army of Islam in 2007, when the group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston.
              
At the time, Hamas said it had severed ties with the group and helped free Johnston after four months in captivity.

 

Date created : 2011-01-23

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