Egyptian Coptic Christians pray as they attend a funeral mass held for the victims of an attack at the Coptic church of the Virgin in Giza, near Cairo, yesterday. Five men were arrested over a nighttime attack on a Cairo church that left four dead, security officials said.
CAIRO: Thousands turned out yesterday for the funeral of four Copts gunned down outside a church, in the first attack on Christians in Cairo since the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president.
Angry mourners chanted for justice and vowed to defend the cross amid chaotic scenes as the coffins were carried in for the service. Two girls aged eight and 12 were among those killed in Sunday’s attack, officials said.
The four victims belonged to one family, according to relatives. Seventeen others were wounded the attack. “It is unfair that we were killed in the house of God,” said Eid Fayez, 42.
Witnesses recounted how celebrations quickly turned into horror as the attackers sped towards the wedding party on a motorbike, sprayed the crowd with bullets and fled.
“This isn’t acceptable in any religion,” cried Layla Ezzat, a survivor who like many others returned to the scene of the attack to grieve.
Ayman Moussa said there had been no security at the church since June, despite several attacks against Copts around the country in the wake of president Mohamed Morsi’s July 3 ouster by the army.
The community was left reeling by the attack. “We as Copts are paying the price of Morsi’s ouster. We are targeted. We no longer feel safe anywhere,” said Iman Girguis, 40. The interior ministry listed two attackers but some witnesses spoke of three.
“Three masked men on a motorbike approached us. Two opened fire on us and then everything turned to blood and chaos,” said Moawad Wagih, 40, speaking outside the morgue where the bodies were taken.
Ahmed Al Ansari, the head of ambulance services, said four people were killed and 17 were wounded. A morgue official said all those killed were Copts.
Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi condemned the attack, calling it a “despicable criminal act,” and said security forces were searching for the assailants. AFP