“Targeting the Coptic Christians in Egypt is not something new, as a matter of fact it has lately morphed into some kind of a systematic pattern”
Report by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
For VT – Alexandria, Egypt
In less than six hours, Egyptian security apparatus has been able to investigate the deadly attack on a bus carrying Christians to a remote monastery in Upper Egypt, identify the perpetrators, and swiftly act in retaliation by striking targets, not inside Egypt, but in Libya. Well, that was a faster reaction than that which was conducted by those sluggish British policemen in Manchester. I think England should dump the American CIA guys (Who took responsibility for Manchester leaks) and instead focus on bolstering intelligence sharing with the (truly professional and relentless) Egyptian security authorities.
The Egyptian fighter jets carried out strikes on Friday directed at camps in Libya which Egyptian military authorities claim have been training (Islamist) militants who killed dozens of Coptic Christians earlier in the day. The latest estimate of the dead is 29 dead and 24 seriously wounded. The Coptic group was heading to the Saint Samuel Monastery, outside Minya city, about 220km south of Cairo, when the masked attackers, who came in three pickup trucks, opened fire on them before fleeing the scene.
Targeting the Coptic Christians in Egypt is not something new, as a matter of fact it has lately morphed into some kind of a systematic pattern (well-funded and trained – and politically manipulated, I might add)
Does anyone still remember the horrific church bombing in Alexandria which killed 21 Coptic Christians, few months before the January revolution back in 2011? I still do, because I was two hundred meters away from the Church, 15 minutes before the blast.
In the initial investigations that were not completed, the Security Apparatus of Mubarak was found somehow implicated in orchestrating the bombing. It was too obvious who would benefit from that attack. The bombing would create a strong public feeling of uncertainty and fear, a smoke screen to allow Mubarak (under the extended emergency law) to win another term in office. It is worth mentioning here that 2018 is the year of the upcoming Presidential Elections in Egypt (under yet another extended emergency law)
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished.
“Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror camps anywhere … if it plans attacking Egypt whether inside or outside the country,” Sisi said.
Meanwhile, Egyptian military sources reported on Friday that Egyptian air force planes carried out six strikes directed at militant (terrorist) camps near Derna in Libya. The city of Derna is in Eastern Libya, between Benghazi and the Western Egyptian borders with Libya.
That makes Derna not only a strategic location for Egypt but also for general, Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan military officer and the head of the Libyan National Army in East Libya which is opposed to the UN-backed Tripoli government.
Haftar is supported by the military in Egypt, United Arab Emirates’ government and some sources say the American CIA.
After the latest (positive) meeting of President Trump with President Sisi in Wshington, one wouldn’t expect the US to issue a condemnation of the Egyptian strikes in Libya.
It seems that both presidents had a mutual understanding on fighting terrorism in the Middle East, where Egypt’s military and air force is expected to play a major role on the ground (especially in Libya and Sudan).
East Libyan forces loyal to General, Khalifa Haftar said they participated in the Egyptian air strikes, which had targeted rebel forces linked to the so called Islamic State (IS) at a number of sites and would be followed by a ground operation.
Sources in Derna heard four powerful explosions and informed some online news media that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group.
But Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas. In the past two years, the Egyptian air force has carried out several strikes on Derna, notably in February 2015 and March 2016, which targeted the same militias of Majlis al-Shura.
Although Mansouri also denied any link between the Majlis al-Shura group and the IS-suspected attack earlier on Friday, in a contradictory move, the Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack.
Clothes and shoes of Coptic Christians could be seen scattered in and around the bus, while the bodies of some of the dead civilian victims lay in the desert sand nearby, covered with black sheets.
Eyewitnesses said three small buses were attacked. First to be hit was a bus taking children to the monastery as part of a church-organized trip, and the other two buses that followed were taking the families.
The gunmen boarded the vehicles and shot all the men and took all the women’s gold jewelry. Then the masked militants shot the women and children in the legs.
Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.
Egyptian/Coptic Christians, whose church dates back nearly 2,000 years, make up a minority sect of about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million.
They say they have long suffered from persecution, but in recent months the frequency of deadly attacks against the Coptic Christians has increased. About 70 have been killed since December in bombings claimed by Islamic State at churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta.
An Islamic State campaign of murders in North Sinai forced hundreds of Christians to flee the vast Northern Governorate (bordering Israel) in February and March.
In the aftermath of those subsequent attacks, many Christians feel insecure and constantly threatened. They say that the state either does not take their plight seriously enough or cannot protect them against militant Islamic attacks.