Gunmen kill 3 at cafe south of Cairo

Security personnel stand guard near the site of a terror attack in Minya, Egypt. (File photo/Reuters)
Updated 24 December 2017
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Gunmen kill 3 at cafe south of Cairo

CAIRO: Masked gunmen opened fire on a cafe south of the Egyptian capital, killing three people, security officials said Sunday.
The attack, which took place overnight in the village of Al-Ayat about 50 km from Cairo, left at least five others wounded, they said.
While the motivation was unclear officials suspect it was a criminal incident rather than terrorism.
State-run newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm, citing witnesses, said two attackers arrived on a motorcycle and opened fire on people in the cafe before fleeing.
Security officials arrived at the scene and also interviewed injured people in hospital to try to identify and arrest the attackers, the newspaper reported.
Separately, hundreds of demonstrators attacked an unlicensed church south of Cairo wounding three people, an Egyptian Coptic Christian diocese said on Saturday.
The incident took place after Friday prayers when demonstrators gathered outside the building and stormed it. The demonstrators chanted hostile slogans and called for the church’s demolition, a source said. The demonstrators destroyed the church’s contents and assaulted Christians inside before security personnel arrived and dispersed them.
The wounded were transferred to a nearby hospital, the diocese said after the attack, without elaborating.
A media coordinator at the diocese, the Rev. Yehnes Youssef, said later on Saturday that three Copts were wounded but have been treated.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 22 min 17 sec ago
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.