Ten killed as terrorists attack Coptic church in Egypt

Ten killed as terrorists attack Coptic church in Egypt
Relatives of the victims of the Egyptian terror attack grieve during their funeral service in Cairo on Friday. (AP)
Updated 30 December 2017

Ten killed as terrorists attack Coptic church in Egypt

Ten killed as terrorists attack Coptic church in Egypt

CAIRO: Ten people were killed and five others were injured on Friday morning in an armed clash after security forces attempted to thwart a terrorist attack targeting a church in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan, according to Egypt’s Health Ministry.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that security forces shot and wounded a terrorist who was riding a motorcycle and shooting randomly in an attempt to storm the Mar Mina Church in Helwan. Security forces found an automatic gun, 150 bullets and a bomb on the wounded terrorist, according to the ministry statement.
Before the church shootout, the terrorist opened fire on nearby commercial stores, killing two citizens.
The ministry said that the terrorist’s name is Ibrahim Ismail Mustafa, and he has taken part in other terrorist attacks. A ministry official said the terrorist’s identity had some of the fingerprints of Daesh.
The Egyptian national TV said that a terrorist was killed and another was arrested, while the Interior Ministry said the attack was executed by one terrorist only.
An official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attack. The source offered deep condolences to the families of the victims and the people and government of Egypt, wishing the wounded a speedy recovery. The source renewed the Kingdom’s support of Egypt against such attacks.
Denouncing the attack, King Abdullah of Jordan stressed Amman’s solidarity with Cairo and its support against terrorism. He also expressed his deepest condolences to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the families of the victims.
Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), highlighted the preparedness of the Egyptian security forces, noting that the supporters of the terrorist attack have been trying to execute a desperate plan targeting the security of Egypt. He renewed the position of the OIC in condemning terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations.
Daesh had threatened more than once this year to target Egyptian Christians and their churches. The last threat came when Wafa Media Foundation, a propaganda body affiliated to the network of Daesh, incited the militants to kill Egypt’s Christians and bomb their churches. 
Daesh claimed responsibility for three massive attacks on Egyptian churches through the past year; the first one was on St. Peter’s Church in Cairo in December 2016, and the second and third attacks were on two churches in Alexandria and Tanta in April.
El-Sisi said the terrorist attacks would make Egyptians more determined to continue cleansing the country of terrorism and extremism.
El-Sisi extended “his condolences to the families of the victims of the despicable terrorist attack.” He instructed the relevant bodies to provide the necessary care for the victims’ families, and ordered tightened security at vital sites.
Mai Mogib, who teaches political science at the University of Cairo, said that it was possible to identify two political objectives behind the escalation of terrorist attacks and threats against Egyptian Christians during the past year. “The first one is to create sectarian tension that will drain the state’s institutions, weaken security efforts and people’s trust in any security successes that might be announced in other fronts like Sinai and Western Desert,” he said.
“The second one is to erode the popularity of the president among Christians; an important support base, especially when the presidential elections will be held in June,” he said.
The attack has been expected by Egyptian security bodies since the Interior Ministry on Dec. 17 raised the security alert to the maximum level during the Christmas holidays.
Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar stressed the importance of intensifying security measures at Christian sites and constantly monitoring the perimeters of all churches.
Abdel-Ghaffar told the ministry’s officials that it was “necessary to continue taking pro-active measures and thwart the terrorist attacks,” warning that “the decisive security confrontations with terrorists in Sinai might push these terrorists to escape and sneak into cities.”
In June, the weekly newspaper Al-Naba, published by the media center of Daesh, claimed that the terror group had another branch in Egyptian districts, known as “the Caliphate’s Soldiers in Egypt,” along with Daesh’s more active first branch, “Sinai Province.”
Meanwhile, the Egyptian armed forces announced they would continue their joint efforts with the Interior Ministry to boost security during the holiday season. A spokesperson for the Egyptian armed forces said that the citizens’ protection units affiliated to the armed forces were working intensively alongside the police in streets and religious places.
He said that the armed forces were backed by additional specialized and technical forces ready for an immediate action in the event of any emergency on New Year’s Eve.  


Opposition forces leave Somali capital after deadly clashes

Opposition forces leave Somali capital after deadly clashes
Somali opposition soldiers pose for a photograph in Mogadishu as they move to their barracks after reaching an agreement with the prime minister. (Reuters)
Updated 08 May 2021

Opposition forces leave Somali capital after deadly clashes

Opposition forces leave Somali capital after deadly clashes
  • Soldiers loyal to influential opposition leaders began pouring into the capital, where clashes broke out with pro-government troops, killing three

MOGADISHU: Opposition fighters withdrew from the Somali capital on Friday, ending a tense standoff with pro-government troops after a dispute over delayed elections triggered the country’s worst political violence in years.
Hundreds of heavily armed gunmen pulled out of strongholds in Mogadishu they had occupied since late April, when a long-running political crisis turned deadly with clashes erupting between rival factions of the security forces.
Under a deal reached by the warring sides this week, opposition troops began leaving their positions in the capital, and key roads sealed off with sandbags and machine guns were opened once more.
“We are sending our forces back to the frontline position to defend the country and its people,” said Mahad Salad, an opposition lawmaker, at a camp outside Mogadishu where troops assembled after pulling out of the city.
Mogadishu had been on edge since February, when President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed’s term ended before elections were held, and protesters took to the streets against his rule.
But a resolution in April to extend his mandate by two years split the country’s fragile security forces along all-important clan lines.
Soldiers loyal to influential opposition leaders began pouring into the capital, where clashes broke out with pro-government troops, killing three.
The fighting drove tens of thousands of civilians from their homes and divided the city, with government forces losing some key neighborhoods to opposition units.
Under pressure to ease the tension, Mohammed abandoned his mandate extension and instructed his prime minister to arrange fresh elections and bring together rivals for talks.
“These forces came to the rescue of the people, and have taught a new lesson which will be remembered in future. They refused a dictatorship, and have forced the democratic governance process to continue,” opposition lawmaker Salad said.

FASTFACT

Hundreds of heavily armed gunmen pulled out of strongholds in Mogadishu they had occupied since late April, when a long-running political crisis turned deadly with clashes erupting between rival factions of the security forces.

Indirect elections were supposed to have been held by February under a deal reached between the government and Somalia’s five regional states the previous September.
But that agreement collapsed as the president and the leaders of two states, Puntland and Jubaland, squabbled over the terms.
Months of UN-backed talks failed to broker consensus between the feuding sides.
In early May, Mohammed relaunched talks with his opponents over the holding of fresh elections, and agreed to return to the terms of the September accord.
Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble has invited the regional leaders to a round of negotiations on May 20 in the hope of resolving the protracted feud and charting a path to a vote.
The international community has threatened sanctions if elections are not held soon, and warned the political infighting distracted from the fight against Al-Shabab, the militants who control swathes of countryside.
Maj.-Gen. Ali Araye Osoble told opposition troops outside the capital that it was time to return to duty.
“I order that you return to your positions and fulfil your commitments in the fight against Al-Shabab,” the opposition commander said.


Tunisia orders lockdown amid ‘worst’ ever health crisis

Tunisia orders lockdown amid ‘worst’ ever health crisis
People wearing protective face masks walk in Tunis, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Tunisia, April 29, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 May 2021

Tunisia orders lockdown amid ‘worst’ ever health crisis

Tunisia orders lockdown amid ‘worst’ ever health crisis
  • Under new rules, travel will be banned between regions, gatherings and celebrations prohibited, and a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew imposed

TUNIS: Tunisia ordered a partial lockdown from Sunday for the week-long Eid Al-Fitr holidays, warning that any further increase in coronavirus infections could overwhelm specialist care facilities.
Announcing the measure on Friday, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said Tunisia was going through “the worst health crisis in its history.”
Mosques, markets and nonessential businesses will be closed under the new restrictions, which come as Muslims mark the end of the month of Ramadan, said Mechichi.
“Health institutions are at risk of collapse,” Mechichi said, adding that medics were stretched to the limit, with around 100 people a day dying of COVID-19.
More than 500 people are currently in intensive care, an unprecedented number that has required medics to set up field hospitals, and the North African country is struggling to meet the demand for oxygen.
Under new rules, travel will be banned between regions, gatherings and celebrations prohibited, and a 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew imposed.
Tunisians are encouraged to leave their homes only for what is strictly necessary, government spokeswoman Hasna Ben Slimane said.
The Mediterranean country, with a population of around 12 million, has recorded more than 300,000 coronavirus cases and over 11,200 deaths.
Tunisia’s economy has lurched from one crisis to another since the country’s 2011 revolution, with GDP estimated to have contracted by a record 8.2 percent last year.
Mechichi had said several times in recent weeks that Tunisia is unable to afford to repeat the restrictions put in place in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic.


US envoy in Sudan in a bid to resolve dam dispute

US envoy in Sudan in a bid to resolve dam dispute
U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman, left, meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the foreign ministry in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (AP)
Updated 08 May 2021

US envoy in Sudan in a bid to resolve dam dispute

US envoy in Sudan in a bid to resolve dam dispute
  • The dispute now centers on how quickly Ethiopia should fill and replenish the reservoir and how much water it releases downstream in case of a multi-year drought

CAIRO: The US envoy for the Horn of Africa was in Sudan on Friday, the latest stop on his tour of the region aimed at resolving the decade-long dispute over Ethiopia’s massive dam on the Nile River’s main tributary.
During his two-day visit, Jeffrey Feltman is expected to hold talks with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and foreign and irrigation ministers, the state-run news agency reported.
Feltman is to discuss the ongoing dispute between Ethiopia on one hand, and Sudan and Egypt on the other over Addis Ababa’s filling of the reservoir on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. The dispute has exacerbated concerns of an escalation into a military conflict that could threaten the entire region.
The dispute now centers on how quickly Ethiopia should fill and replenish the reservoir and how much water it releases downstream in case of a multi-year drought. The latest round of African Union-brokered negotiations in April failed to make progress.
Egypt and Sudan argue that Ethiopia’s plan to add 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in 2021 to the dam’s reservoir is a threat to them. Cairo and Khartoum have called for the US, the UN, and EU to help reach a legally binding deal. The agreement would spell out how the dam is operated and filled, based on international law and norms governing cross-border rivers.
Egypt, which relies on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water supplies, fears a devastating impact if the dam is operated without taking its needs into account. Ethiopia says the $5 billion dam is essential, arguing the vast majority of its population lacks electricity.
Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile. The Blue Nile meets with the White Nile in Khartoum, from where it winds northward through Egypt and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.


Israeli police shoot dead 2 Palestinians

Israeli police shoot  dead 2 Palestinians
Israeli police run during clashes with Palestinians at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque amid tension over the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from homes in Jerusalem's Old City, May 7, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 May 2021

Israeli police shoot dead 2 Palestinians

Israeli police shoot  dead 2 Palestinians
  • Friday’s killings follow days of clashes and shootings. On Sunday, a 19-year-old Israeli was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting at the Tapuah junction bus stop, also in the northern West Bank

JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces on Friday killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the trio had opened fire on a base in the occupied West Bank, police said, the latest flareup in violence after clashes in east Jerusalem.
The exchange of gunfire at the Salem base outside the northern West Bank town of Jenin came as tensions soar in annexed East Jerusalem over an eviction threat hanging over four Palestinian families.
Tamir Pero, spokesman of Israel’s border police, said Palestinian attackers armed with rifles began running toward officers and shooting.
Pero said the officers “took cover behind concrete blocks and returned fire,” killing two attackers and critically wounding a third before any officers were injured.
Guns, knives and a large supply of ammunition were found on the men, police said.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Israel “not a country, but a terrorist base,” and in a televised speech said that fighting the Jewish state was “everyone’s duty.”
Friday’s killings follow days of clashes and shootings. On Sunday, a 19-year-old Israeli was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting at the Tapuah junction bus stop, also in the northern West Bank.
Israeli security forces announced they had arrested Montasser Shalabi, 44, near Ramallah, on suspicion of carrying out the attack. Palestinian sources said Shalabi is a dual US national.
On Wednesday, Israeli troops killed a 16-year-old Palestinian when they opened fire on protesters throwing petrol bombs near Nablus.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement: “We hold the Israeli government responsible for this escalation and its repercussions.” He urged Washington to pressure Israel “so that matters do not reach a stage that cannot be controlled.”


Palestinian worshippers, Israeli police clash in Jerusalem

Palestinian worshippers, Israeli police clash in Jerusalem
Updated 07 May 2021

Palestinian worshippers, Israeli police clash in Jerusalem

Palestinian worshippers, Israeli police clash in Jerusalem
  • Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 53 people were wounded in clashes with police
  • Clashes erupted when Israeli police deployed heavily as Muslims were performing evening prayers at Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM: Palestinian worshippers clashed with Israeli police late Friday at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a major holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews, in an escalation of weeks of violence in Jerusalem that has reverberated across the region.
The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 53 people were wounded in clashes with police there and elsewhere in Jerusalem, including 23 who were hospitalized. It says most were wounded in the face and eyes by rubber-coated bullets and shrapnel from stun grenades. Israel said six police officers were wounded.
Earlier Friday, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the men opened fire on a base belonging to Israel’s paramilitary Border Police force in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of deadly confrontations in recent weeks that has coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. More unrest appears likely next week.
Tensions have soared in recent weeks in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians. At the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israel blocked off a popular gathering spot where Palestinians traditionally socialize at the end of their daylong fast. The move set off two weeks of clashes before Israel lifted the restrictions.
But in recent days, clashes have resumed due to Israel’s threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, who have been embroiled in a long legal battle with Israeli settlers trying to acquire property in the neighborhood.
The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about the heightened tensions and called on all sides to work to de-escalate them. It also expressed concern about the threatened evictions.
“It’s critical to avoid unilateral steps that would exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace. And that would include evictions, settlement activity, and home demolitions,” US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters in Washington.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam. The site is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount and revere it as the spot where the biblical Temples stood. It has long been a flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian violence and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Israeli police deployed in large numbers as Muslim worshippers were holding evening prayers at the site. It was unclear what sparked the violence, but videos circulating online showed worshippers throwing chairs, shoes and rocks at police, who fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets to disperse them. Smaller clashes broke out elsewhere in Jerusalem.
The Israeli police said protesters hurled stones, fireworks and other objects at them, wounding six officers who required medical treatment. “We will respond with a heavy hand to all violent disturbances, riots and attacks on our forces,” it said in a statement.
Earlier, some 70,000 worshippers had attended the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans.
Neighboring Jordan, which serves as the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, had earlier warned Israel against further “provocative” steps, while Israel’s archenemy Iran encouraged the violence.
In the attack on Friday morning, Israeli police said three attackers fired on the base near the northern West Bank town of Jenin. The Border Police and an Israeli soldier returned fire, killing two of the men and wounding the third, who was evacuated to a hospital.
Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more violence in the coming days.
Sunday night is “Laylat Al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshippers will gather for intense nighttime prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the evictions.
Iran was meanwhile marking its own Quds, or Jerusalem, Day on Friday. The national holiday typically features anti-Israel protests and fiery speeches by Iranian leaders predicting Israel’s demise.
“The downward and declining movement of the Zionist regime has begun and will not stop,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address. He called for continuing armed “resistance” in the Palestinian territories and urged Muslim nations support it.
This year, Ramadan has coincided with an uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence focused on Jerusalem.
On Thursday, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a drive-by shooting earlier this week in the West Bank that killed an Israeli and wounded two others. The day before, Israeli troops shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian near the West Bank city of Nablus. The military said several Palestinians had thrown firebombs toward soldiers.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza — territories the Palestinians want for their future state — in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and views the entire city as its capital.
The Palestinians view east Jerusalem — which includes major holy sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims — as their capital, and its fate is one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict. In a call to Palestine TV, President Mahmoud Abbas praised the “courageous stand” of the protesters and said Israel bore full responsibility for the violence.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry had earlier accused the Palestinians of seizing on the threatened evictions, which it described as a “real-estate dispute between private parties,” in order to incite violence.
“The (Palestinian Authority) and Palestinian terror groups will bear full responsibility for the violence emanating from their actions. The Israel police will ensure public order is maintained,” it tweeted earlier in the day.
Neighboring Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994 and is the custodian of Al-Aqsa, said “Israel’s continuation of its illegal practices and provocative steps” in the city is a “dangerous game.”
“Building and expanding settlements, confiscating lands, demolishing homes and deporting Palestinians from their homes are illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and undermine the chances of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, which is a regional and international necessity,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi tweeted.
The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and opposes Israel’s existence, has egged on the violence, and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired rockets in support of the protesters.