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Nag Hamadi: armed commando attacks Coptic Christians, seven dead and three wounded

The incident happened at midnight last night, after Christmas Mass which the Coptic Church celebrates Christmas on January 7. The attack was revenge for an alleged case of sexual assault against a twelve year old, which occurred last November.

1/7/2010 Egypt (AsiaNews) – The death toll from an attack against the Christian Copts in Egypt is seven dead and three wounded. Yesterday, shortly before midnight, an armed commando opened fire on a group of faithful of the church of St John in Nag Hamadi, in the province of Qena, 64 miles from Luxor. Sources in the Ministry of the Interior explain that the assault was a response to an alleged case of sexual assault, which occurred last November. The Muslim community has accused a Christian of raping a 12 year old girl.

Local witnesses report that a group of three armed men in a car opened fire on the faithful. The Christian community had gathered to celebrate Christmas midnight mass which for the Coptic falls on January 7. The head of the armed commandos, ministerial sources added, have already been identified. The attackers opened fire indiscriminately on the crowd. Among the injured there are two Muslims, who were in the vicinity of the building at the time of the attack.

In Egypt, the Coptic Christian community is about 10% of the population in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. The Christian community it is the victim of violence and persecution, caused by a sharp rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Sometimes the basis of many attacks disputes over land ownership, or over for women, but they soon become sectarian clashes.

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