MILITANTS CELEBRATE 'EID WITH CHURCH ATTACK
 
By Staff and wire reports
Middle East Times
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Muslim militants celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan by 
murdering Coptic Christians in front of a church in Upper Egypt, according 
to police reports on the night of 12 February.
 
    Eight Christians were killed and five wounded in the first major 
militant attack after Ramadan Several men armed with automatic weapons 
fired on the group as they were standing in front of Saint George's 
church in the town of Abus Qurqas in the Minya region, about 320 kilometers 
south of Cairo, the police added. 
 
    The attackers were able to flee while firing shots in the air, 
Egyptian police said. 
 
    Among the dead were one woman and two brothers, the police report 
added. 
 
    Copts have often been the object of militant violence. In February 
1996 the homes of Coptic families were burned to the ground in the 
southern towns of Al Badari, Asyut, Demian and Sharkeya.
 
    Lawyer and human rights activist Sayed Khamis editorialized in the 
April issue of People's Rights, published by the Legal Research and 
Resource Center for Human Rights (LRRC), that "everyone knows about the 
silence of the Egyptian government when it comes to giving the Copts 
their rights, and everyone knows the government consistently ignores Coptic 
demands. This is part of the erroneous policies adopted by the 
government, which amount to bribing the fundamentalists."
 
    Minya has over the past two years become the key stronghold of the 
main armed Islamic group, the Al Jamaa Islamiyya, which had been 
smashed in the Asyut region further south by police. 
 
    More than 1,100 people have been killed in a wave of Muslim 
militant violence that began in March 1992, according to AFP.
 
    "It is the duty of intellectuals in Egypt to discuss these things 
and to realize it is better late than never," wrote Khamis
 
    This article would have appeared in the 2 November 1997 issue of 
The Middle East Times.
 
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