Egypt says 19 perpetrators of attack against Christians killed

Egyptian security forces killed 19 extremist militants. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 November 2018

Egypt says 19 perpetrators of attack against Christians killed

  • The suspects were killed in a firefight in the desert west of Minya province after security forces pursued them
  • Daesh has claimed responsibility for the Minya attack

CAIRO: Nineteen Daesh militants linked to a deadly terrorist attack on Christian pilgrims have been killed in a shoot-out with Egyptian security forces.

The militants were tracked to a hideout in the desert west of the central province of Minya, the site of last week’s attack on the pilgrims.

The Daesh gunmen opened fire when they realized they were trapped, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry published photos showing the bodies of the dead militants, along with weapons and ammunition. Other images showed the inside of a tent with a black Daesh banner unfurled on the ground.

Seven people died, six from the same family, and 19 were wounded when Daesh militants opened fire last Friday on pilgrims traveling in two buses near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, 260 km south of Cairo.

Pope Francis referred to the attack while speaking on Sunday at Saint Peter’s in Vatican City.

“I express my pain after the terrorist attack which two days ago hit the Coptic Orthodox church in Egypt,” he said. “I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christian.”

Copts, a Christian minority who make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 97 million people, have in recent years been repeatedly targeted by Daesh.

In May 2017, masked gunmen ordered Christians traveling to St. Samuel to get off their buses and recant their faith. The group refused and 29 were shot dead.

Daesh also killed more than 40 people in two church bombings in April 2017, and a Daesh gunman killed nine people in an attack last December on a church in a south Cairo suburb.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi called on Sunday for Egyptians to fight religious discrimination.

“When an Egyptian falls in a terrorist attack, we suffer and all the people of Egypt suffer,” the president said in an address to a youth forum in Sharm El-Sheikh.

“The state now is tasked with building churches for its citizens, because Christians have the right to worship. If followers of other religions lived in Egypt, we would have built places of worship for them too.”

 


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 13 November 2019

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.