Egyptian kills one, wounds 12 Christians


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From: Copy from the daily star
Date: 4/14/06
Time: 10:26:53 PM
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Mentally ill Egyptian kills one, wounds 12 Christians in stabbing spree

Compiled by Daily Star staff Saturday, April 15, 2006

An Egyptian Christian was killed and at least 12 others wounded in knife attacks at three Coptic churches in the city of Alexandria Friday morning, police and medical sources said.

The Interior Ministry said the rampage was carried out by a single attacker within the span of an hour, revising an earlier account by police that claimed three people had been involved.

"[He] was apprehended as he tried to enter [a third church]," the ministry said in the statement. "The aforementioned is called Mahmoud Abdel-Razik Salaheddine Hussein."

The ministry said Hussein had wounded three people in Mar Girgis (St. George) Church and then wounded three others in Saints Church before being stopped trying to enter another church named after St. George.

"The attacks ... resulted in six wounded, one of whom died from his wounds," the ministry said, adding that Hussein suffered from mental illness and the prosecutor was investigating the incident.

An Interior Ministry official said Hussein's mental illness was the cause of the attacks and there was no political motivation. The official added Hussein had insulted worshippers at the first church before later returning.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Issam al-Aryan voiced disbelief over the security forces' failure to prevent the attack.

"It's very sad news. I cannot understand what the security and police were doing. They are supposed to be guarding the churches," he told AFP.

Copts account for up to 10 percent of Egypt's population of 73 million. They were the majority until several centuries after the Islamic conquest in the 7th century.

The governor of Alexandria told Egyptian state television that Hussein, a supermarket employee, carried out the attack holding two knives and walked from church to church.

Governor Abdel-Salam Mahgoub said three of the wounded were in hospital but would leave later in the day.

Police officials said about 500 people gathered peacefully in and around Saints Church, where the 67-year-old worshipper died, chanting prayers and condemning the attack.

Some of them waved banners that read: "Until When?" or "Stop the persecution against Copts."

At a second church, survivors described a knife-waving assailant bursting into the building and sowing panic among worshippers.

"The attacker stormed the church armed with a knife and shouted 'There is no God but Allah' and 'Allah is the greatest' before stabbing the worshippers," said one of employees at Mar Girgis Church.

"We closed the doors of the church as soon as he started attacking the worshippers and we fought back with sticks but he tried to flee through one of the church's underground passages," said the witness, who asked that he be identified only as Ibrahim = (Abraham).

Alexandria was the scene of violent protests in October over a church play which demonstrators said was offensive to Islam. Three people died when the protesters clashed with police. - Agencies