Egyptian Coptic priest, police officer killed in 2 attacks in North Sinai's Arish

Thursday 30-06-2016 02:47 PM

Egyptian security personnel check cars at a checkpoint near the site, where separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai on Thursday killed 30 people, in Arish, North Sinai, Egypt, January 31, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

CAIRO, Jun 30 (Aswat Masriya) – An Egyptian priest was shot dead on Thursday near the al-Arish police station in North Sinai, the interior ministry said in a statement, after a police officer was killed in another attack in the same city.

Rafael Moussa, a Coptic Orthodox priest, was present at the industrial area in the vicinity of Arish police station to fix his private car when an anonymous gunman fired shots at him, leading to his injury and subsequent death, the interior ministry said in its statement.

Security forces moved to the crime scene and took the legal measures required for the incident, the ministry added.

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church also announced the 49-year-old priest's death in a statement on Thursday, identifying Moussa as the priest of Saint George Church in Arish.

Moussa "joined the martyrs of the country and the church," the Church said, adding that the priest was killed by "terrorist bullets".

Coptic Orthodox Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's population and are the Middle East's biggest Christian community.


Also on Thursday, a police officer was killed and four others were injured in a bombing in Arish near the same police station, state-owned news agency MENA reported. 

North Sinai militants have stepped up attacks especially targeting security forces since the military ouster of President Mohamed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, in July 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

A state of emergency was declared in North Sinai in October 2014, after 33 security personnel were killed in an attack, and it has been regularly extended since. 

The Egyptian military says it has killed hundreds of "terrorists" in the context of the "Martyr’s Right" military operation, according to its published statements. The first stage of the operation was launched in repose to the October 2014 attack.

Sinai Province, an affiliate of the Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), claims responsibility for most of the attacks in the area.

But no group has claimed responsibility for today's two attacks yet.  

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