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Egypt sentences two to death over church attack in 2017

Egypt sentences two to death over church attack in 2017

2019/05/13 | 11:45

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)-

An Egyptian court on Sunday

sentenced two men to death and eight others to between three years and life in

prison over an attack on a church and Christian-owned shop in Cairo that killed

10 people.A gunman opened fire in December 2017 on Christians in a shop

in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan, killing two people, before firing on

the entrance to the nearby Mar Mina church, where he killed seven Christian

worshippers and a policeman.The emergency state security court sentenced the main

suspect, who is in custody, and another suspect, who is on the run, to death.Two defendants were handed life sentences, four were given

four years in prison and two were handed three years in jail. One suspect was

acquitted and two others are still at large.The authorities had said the gunman was wounded by security

forces during the attack. ISIS claimed responsibility.The main suspect appeared in court on Sunday wearing death

row prison clothes, having also been handed two death sentences in military

trials after being convicted of attacking military buildings.The main suspect embraced the other defendants in the court

after the verdict. Under Egypt’s state of emergency law, the defendants can

appeal to have the sentence by the security court reduced.In November, militants killed seven people when they attacked

a bus returning from a baptism in the governorate of Minya.Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of

the population, have been targeted by militants in recent years.A gunman killed at least 11 people on Dec. 29 in attacks on a

Coptic Orthodox church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo before he was

wounded and arrested, the Egyptian Interior Ministry and church officials said.ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, in a statement

carried out by its Amaq news agency, though it provided no evidence for the

claim.Police have stepped up security measures around churches

ahead of Coptic Christmas celebrations on Jan. 7, deploying officers outside

Christian places of worship and setting up metal detectors at some of the

bigger churches.Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt’s

large Christian minority in recent years, including two bombings on Palm Sunday

in April and a blast at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral in December 2016 that

killed 28 people.Earlier reports by security sources and state media said at

least two attackers were involved in Friday’s attack, and that one was shot

dead and another fled the scene. The Interior Ministry did not explain the

reason for the different accounts.The Coptic Church said the gunman first shot at a

Christian-owned shop 4 km away, killing two people, before proceeding to the

Mar Mina church in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan. The Interior Ministry

said he opened fire at the entrance to the site and tried to throw an explosive

device.The gunman killed at least nine people, including a

policeman, at the church, according to Interior Ministry and Coptic Church accounts.

The Church said a young woman had died later from her wounds, bringing the

civilian death toll at the church to eight.The ministry said security forces had “immediately dealt with

the (attacker) and arrested him after he was wounded.” It added, “Legal

measures have been taken,” without elaborating.









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