First Published: 2012-12-31

 

Two Egyptians killed in attack on Libya church

 

Explosion rocks Coptic church in Dafniya as people were leaving amid Cairo’s condemnation.

 

Middle East Online

By Dominique Soguel - TRIPOLI

The reasons of the attack are unknown

An explosion rocked a Coptic church near Libya's third-largest city of Misrata killing two Egyptians and wounding two others, the Egyptian embassy and state media reported Sunday, as Cairo condemned the blast.

Libya's official LANA news agency said the attack took place late Saturday after mass as people were leaving the church. There was no immediate claim for the blast.

"Unknown assailants targeted a church building in the town of Dafniya, in Misrata (province), causing the death of two Egyptian citizens and wounding two others," LANA reported.

"The explosion happened after the mass ended and people were on their way out," said the agency.

An Egyptian diplomat in Tripoli said the explosion struck the church of Mar Girgis (St George) at around 11:30 pm (2230 GMT) on Saturday but that the embassy was not informed until the morning.

He confirmed that two Egyptians were killed and two others wounded in the attack.

"We still don't have clear information" about what caused the explosion, the diplomat said. But he added that, according to initial reports, the blast took place in an annex of the church.

Atiya al-Dreni, vice-chairman of the Misrata local council said that an investigation was underway. "Explosives experts will determine what happened in the next few hours or days," he said.

"The reasons are unknown... if it was intentional the number of casualties would have been higher."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr "denounced" the violence, the state-run MENA news agency reported from Cairo.

"Egypt is requesting an investigation into the circumstances of the operation and for those responsible to be put on trial," the minister said.

The Egyptian foreign ministry also sent urgent messages to the Libyan interior and foreign ministries requesting beefed up security around the church, MENA added.

The agency said "two unknown assailants had thrown a grenade" at a church building.

Dafniya is a Mediterranean town 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of the city of Misrata, where brigades made up of former rebels hold a major checkpoint.

There were an estimated 1.5 million Egyptians living and working in Libya before the 2011 armed revolt that toppled Libyan dictator Moamer Gathafi. About two-thirds left during the war but many returned in 2012.

Before the revolt Libya had a population of around 6.3 million -- including some 1.5 million African immigrants many of whom fled during the fighting -- that was 97 percent Muslim and only three percent Christian.

Christians in Libya are mostly expatriates, including migrant workers from neighbouring Egypt where Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority.

In August, the International Committee of the Red Cross shut its operations in Misrata, 180 kilometres (110 miles) east of the capital, after armed assailants laid siege to a staff residence.

Libya's first elected authorities are keen to boost security but the fledgling army and police are often helpless in the face of well-armed militias made up of former rebels.

Extremism has become a source of growing concern in post-Kadhafi Libya, with several international agencies and diplomatic missions targeted this year by attacks blamed on radical Islamists.

The deadliest was a September 11 assault on the US consulate in second city Benghazi, which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

 

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes

US forces raid Al-Qaeda in Yemen, kill seven jihadists

Islamists to join Algeria cabinet despite poor results

Tunisia's 2.1% GDP growth marks economic upturn

Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Istanbul demolishes nightclub targeted in New Year attack

WHO says 315 cholera deaths in Yemen in under one month

Trump seeks Israeli-Palestinian peace, lashes out at Iran again

Tunisia police use tear gas on protesters

Palestinians protest for hunger-striking prisoners

GCC and Arab League call for Yemen unity

Turkey's alleged coup ringleaders stand trial

Iran’s reformists sweep to power across major cities

Israel makes concessions to Palestinians 'at Trump's request'

Ivanka hales Saudi progress on women’s rights

Looming showdown between Egypt’s president, judges

Netanyahu says will discuss peace efforts with Trump

Bahrain sentences Shiite cleric to suspended jail term

Trump scandals no issue for Saudi says minister

Saudi women celebrate easing of guardianship system, call for more freedoms

Hamas sentences three to death for commander assassination