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Tuesday , January 31 2023

Amir condoles on attack in Egypt

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KUWAIT CITY, Nov 3, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Friday sent a cable to Egyptian President Abdelfatah el-Sisi expressing profound condolences and solace over killing of citizens in the blatant terrorist attack on Coptic nationals in Menya Governorate, Upper Egypt.

His Highness the Amir, in the cable to President el-Sisi, expressed Kuwait’s robust denunciation of this horrific terrorist act that targeted the innocent and aimed at jeopardizing Egypt’s security and stability. He expressed solidarity with the sisterly nation in facing such a dangerous phenomenon, also voicing support for the authorities’ measures to safeguard the country’s security and safety.

Moreover, His Highness the Amir prayed for the victims’ souls and wished the injured quick recovery. Their Highnesses the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister, respectively Sheikh Nawaf Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al- Hamad Al-Sabah, addressed cables of identical content to the Egyptian president. National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim also on Friday sent a cable to Egyptian counterpart Dr Ali Abdelaal to extend condolences over the terrorist attack on a Coptic bus in Minya Governorate which left several casualties. In his cable, Al-Ghanim expressed strong condemnation of the heinous terror act.

He also voiced solidarity with Egypt against the terrorist schemes which targeted its security and stability. Angry Coptic Christians on Saturday buried relatives shot dead on a bus carrying pilgrims south of the Egyptian capital, the second such jihadist attack on the country’s main religious minority in as many years.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind Friday’s attack which killed seven Christians returning from a visit to the desert cemetery of Saint Samuel that was also targeted in 2017.

A security source said another seven people were wounded in the shootings near the city of Minya. Hundreds of angry Copts gathered in and around Minya’s Prince Tadros Church from dawn for the funeral of six victims, under heavy guard by masked security personnel.

The seventh victim, an Anglican, was buried Friday evening in a village outside Minya. After Saturday’s prayers, the bodies were carried out in white coffins bearing wreaths of white flowers, amid shouts of “with our souls, with our blood, we will defend the cross!” They were being buried in a nearby Coptic cemetery. “We will not forget the promises of officials, including the president of the republic, that the criminals will be punished,” Bishop Makarios of Minya said in an address to mourners.

Members of the crowd, however, booed as he thanked security officials. Many Copts accuse authorities for not doing enough to protect them, following a string of attacks that have killed over 100 members of their community since 2011.

Dozens of victims’ family members had waited throughout Friday night outside Minya’s main hospital to receive the bodies for burial. An elderly woman wept for her dead son and wailed as she sat on the ground outside the hospital morgue. “He was the best child … I’ll never see him again,” she said, as other mourners rushed to carry a coffin to an ambulance to be taken to a church for a funeral. Security forces remained on the alert outside the hospital for fear of further attacks, while roads were blocked to the scene of the shooting. Bishop Makarios visited the hospital to try to comfort mourners.

Another Coptic cleric, asking not to be named, told AFP around 24 people had escaped the attack unharmed and spent the night at a church in a nearby village. “Should I carry a gun with me when I go to pray or when I’m at home? Because I could die if I go to church,” said Michel, a 23-year-old Copt whose neighbour was killed in the attack. He said three of the victims had been siblings. “What do these terrorists want? Do they want us to hate Muslims?” On Saturday, a burned-out fourwheel- drive truck, which witnesses said had been used by a group of militants in white galabiya gowns, stood near the site of the attack. Residents had attacked the car and handed two of its occupants to security forces, they said.

As Egypt’s Christians reeled from the latest attack, President el-Sisi called Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences and led a minute of silence at a youth forum he was attending. Copts, a Christian minority that make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 96 million people, have in recent years been repeatedly targeted by IS jihadists.

In May 2017, masked gunmen ordered Christians travelling to Saint Samuel to get off their buses and recant their faith.

The group refused and were shot one by one, leaving 28 people dead in the IS-claimed attack. IS also killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April 2017, and an IS gunman last December killed nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb. Egypt’s army launched a major offensive in February 2018 against IS in the Sinai Peninsula, where the group has waged a deadly insurgency since the fall of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, killing hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

The military offensive — Dubbed “Sinai 2018” — has killed more than 450 jihadists, according to an army estimate, with around 30 soldiers killed. “This latest attack shows that the anti-ISIS (IS) campaign has not yet succeeded in Egypt, despite obvious efforts by the authorities to tackle it in different parts of the country,” said H.A. Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute in London. Copts have long complained of discrimination in Egypt and IS is not the only group to have launched sectarian attacks against the community.