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Gunmen kill three in attack on Egypt's Christians

afp

Gunmen riding a motorbike shot and killed three people, including an 8-year-old girl, when they fired on a group leaving a wedding at a Coptic Christian church in Cairo late on Sunday, Egypt's interior ministry said.

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Gunmen riding a motorbike shot and killed three people when they fired on a group leaving a wedding at a Coptic Christian church in Cairo late on Sunday, Egypt's interior ministry said.

The attack was the first appearing to target Christians in the Egyptian capital since the July 3 military coup that ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

A woman, a man and an 8-year-old girl were killed and nine others were wounded as they emerged from a wedding held at a church in north Cairo's al-Warak neighbourhood, the ministry said.

"There were two men on a motorbike and one of them opened fire," said the interior ministry.

A health ministry official confirmed that three people had been killed but said 12 people had been wounded.

Ahmed al-Ansari from the health ministry told AFP that four of the 12 were in a critical condition, adding that the number of wounded could rise.

Egyptian Christians, the majority of whom are Copts, have been targeted since an August 14 crackdown by security forces on two camps of Morsi supporters in Cairo.

Copts accused in Morsi's ouster

Islamists were enraged by the deadly crackdown and they accused Coptic Chrisitians of backing the coup that toppled Morsi, who belongs to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and was Egypt's first democratically elected president.

This perception was fuelled by the appearance of Coptic Pope Tawadros II alongside army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he announced Morsi's removal from office on television. Muslim leaders and other politicians were also present.

Rights groups say that Copts, who account for six to 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people, have come under attack mainly in the provinces of Minya and Assiut in central Egypt.

On October 9 London-based Amnesty International said that more than 200 Christian-owned properties were attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country since the August 14 crackdown against Morsi supporters in Cairo.

In its report Amnesty International blamed Egyptian security forces for failing to stop "revenge attacks" against Coptic Christians after the Cairo crackdown.

"In light of previous attacks, particularly since Morsi's ousting on 3 July, a backlash against Coptic Christians should have been anticipated, yet security forces failed to prevent attacks or intervene to put an end to the violence," the rights group said.

Egypt's Copts have long complained of discrimination and marginalisation, particularly under Morsi's one-year rule.

Egypt's new army-installed government is engaged in a widespread crackdown on Islamists, jailing more than 2,000 since the pro-Morsi camps were stormed in August.

Morsi himself is in custody and is to go on trial on November 4 over deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents outside the presidential palace in December 2012.

Most of the Brotherhood's leaders including its supreme guide Mohammed Badie are also in custody.

An Egyptian court last month banned the Muslim Brotherhood from operating and seized its assets.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

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