Coptic Christians were attacked by unknown gunman at a wedding party outside a church in Cairo.
BBC News reports that there were three deaths, including that of an eight-year-old girl. However most other news sources, including the LA Times, claim four people lost their lives. There is no dispute that nine other Coptic Christians were injured in the incident.
Since former president Morsi was removed from office, the Coptic Christian community has come under increasing pressure from Islamists who claim that their church supported the army in overthrowing Morsi.
The unidentified attackers fired indiscriminately into the wedding guests as they left the church. A man and a girl died at the scene and another woman died on her way to hospital, according to the BBC. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.The church had been without a police guard since the end of June.
An eyewitness said, “We heard a very loud sound as if something was collapsing, I found a woman seated in a chair with lots of bullet wounds, covered in blood. Many other people had fallen around her, including a child.”
Priest Thomas Daoud Ibrahim was inside the church when the gunfire erupted. He commented, “What happened is an insult to Egypt, and it’s not only directed against Coptic Christians. We are destroying our own country,”
There are between six to eleven million Coptic Christians in Egypt, with a further one million members outside the country.Their Church dates back to about 50 AD and is headed by the Pope of Alexandria, Tawadros II. Services are held partly in the ancient Coptic language which based on language used at the time of the Pharaohs.
Coptic Christians have generally coexisted peacefully with Sunni Muslims for centuries. However, the deposing of Morsi by the military has been followed by the worst attacks on churches and Christians in recent memory.
Some have attributed this to the appearance of Pope Tawadros II alongside army chief, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, when he went on television to announce that the Islamist president had been deposed in the wake of mass opposition protests demanding his resignation.
Pope Tawadros said at the time that the “road map” mentioned by the general had been drawn up by honorable people, who had Egypt’s best interests at heart.
Since being seen as a supporter of the army’s actions he has received a number of death threats,. Also several Coptic Christians have been killed and Christian shops, homes and businesses have also been targeted.