Egypt holds Copt killing suspects

Three people arrested over shooting outside a church in south of the country.

    The shooting outside a church on Wednesday night sparked clashes the following day [EPA]

    "It took time to search inch-by-inch until they managed to hunt them down."

    The killing on Wednesday, Christmas Eve in the Christian Coptic calendar, sparked clashes between thousands of angry Copts and police.

    Fighting erupted outside a hospital morgue where the bodies of the Christians killed the previous day were kept, the official said.

    The six male churchgoers and the Muslim security guard were shot dead by three men in a car as the Christians left a late night mass, witnesses said.

    Retaliation claims

    Al Jazeera's El-Khaky said that one of the men arrested over the attack was "believed to be a relative of a Muslim girl who was allegedly raped last November".  

    "It is believed that this attack was in retaliation for the rape of the girl," he said.

    "Now that he and his accomplices are in [police custody] the investigations are going to start to find out the real motives for the crime."

    A Christian man has been arrested over the alleged rape of the girl and is in custody awaiting trial.

    Bishop Kirollos of the Nagaa Hammadi Diocese said he was concerned about violence on the eve of Coptic Christmas because of previous threats following the rape of the girl.

    He said that he had received a message on his mobile phone saying: "It is your turn."

    "I did nothing with it. My faithful were also receiving threats in the streets, some shouting at them: 'We will not let you have festivities'," he said.

    Kirollos said he ended his Christmas Mass one hour earlier than normal because of the threats.

    Christians, mostly Coptic, account for about 10 per cent of Egypt's 83-million predominantly Muslim population.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.