Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Christian man shot dead by off duty policeman

An off duty policeman has shot a Christian man on a train in Egypt. It is unclear whether the killing was sectarian, but reports have emerged that at least five other people, four of whom are Christian, were injured in the attack which occurred on a train between Assiut and Cairo.

Eyewitnesses say that the gunman walked up to two groups of Coptic Christians, seated in close proximity, chanting in Arabic, "There is no God but God," and opened fire.

The shooter fled the scene of the crime shortly after the shooting, but was captured later. The suspect, identified as Amer Ashoor Abdel-Zaher Hassan, is a deputy policeman, who was travelling to Bani Mazar, in Menya province, where he works.

The Egyptian interior ministry issued a statement saying the officer, "opened fire on some train passengers from his pistol and ran away", but did not give motives for the attack.

The victim, a 71 year old Fathi Saeed Ebaid, was killed instantly, while his wife, a 61 year old, Emily Hannah Tedly, remains in hospital in a critical condition. The hospital, where the victims were taken, was blocked by dozens of Copts demonstrating against the shooting, until the police dispersed the protesters with tear gas.

The news of the latest attack comes 12 days after a bombing which killed 23 Coptic Christians outside the Two Saints Church in Alexandria. About 10 per cent of the country's 80 million residents are Coptic Christians, the remainder being Muslims.

Sources: BBC News, AFP, CNN, Reuters

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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