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

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.  


German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

Updated 24 November 2020

German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

  • Germany insists it acted correctly in boarding a Turkish ship to enforce arms embargo of Libya
  • Turkey summoned European diplomats to complain at the operation

BERLIN: Germany’s defense minister on Tuesday rejected Turkey’s complaints over the search of a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean Sea by a German frigate participating in a European mission, insisting that German sailors acted correctly.
Sunday’s incident prompted Turkey to summon diplomats representing the European Union, Germany and Italy and assert that the Libya-bound freighter Rosaline-A was subjected to an “illegal” search by personnel from the German frigate Hamburg. The German ship is part of the European Union’s Irini naval mission, which is enforcing an arms embargo against Libya.
German officials say that the order to board the ship came from Irini’s headquarters in Rome and that Turkey protested while the team was on board. The search was then ended.
Turkey says the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed the German crew’s actions.
“It is important to me to make really clear that the Bundeswehr soldiers behaved completely correctly,” she said during an appearance in Berlin. “They did what is asked of them in the framework of the European Irini mandate.”
“That there is this debate with the Turkish side points to one of the fundamental problems of this European mission,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added, without elaborating. “But it is very important to me to say clearly here that there are no grounds for these accusations that are now being made against the soldiers.”
This was the second incident between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally enforcing an arms blockade against Libya.
In June, NATO launched an investigation over an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.
Turkey supports a UN-backed government in Tripoli against rival forces based in the country’s east. It has complained that the EU naval operation focuses its efforts too much on the Tripoli administration and turns a blind eye to weapons sent to the eastern-based forces.
In Ankara, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Irini was “flawed from the onset.”
“It is not based on firm international legal foundations,” Akar said. He renewed Turkey’s criticism of the German ship’s actions.
“The incident was against international laws and practices. It was wrong,” he said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that “Turkey is still an important partner for us in NATO.” Turkey being outside the military alliance would make the situation even more difficult, she argued, and Turkish soldiers are “absolutely reliable partners” in NATO missions.
But she conceded that Turkey poses “a big challenge” because of how its domestic politics have developed and because it has its “own agenda, which is difficult to reconcile with European questions in particular.”