More Than 40 Bodies Found In Libya Mass Grave

Libya flag

 

Forty-two bodies have been found in a mass grave in the Libyan city of Sirte, an ex-stronghold of the Islamic State group, the country’s missing persons authority said Sunday.

Exhumation teams unearthed “42 unidentified bodies” after following up reports of a “mass grave” at the site of a former school in Sirte, the authority said.

“DNA samples have been taken for analysis in coordination with the office of forensic medicine,” it added, without elaborating further.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Forces Fire Tear Gas At Protesters Outside French Embassy

Sirte, a central coastal city, was held by IS between 2015 and 2016, as it exploited the chaos engulfing much of Libya in the wake of the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.

The jihadist group was dislodged by forces loyal to the then Government of National Accord in December 2016 after months of intense house-to-house fighting.

In October 2017, a grave containing the bodies of 21 Coptic Christians, executed by the jihadists two years earlier, was uncovered near the Mediterranean city.

Another mass grave with the remains of 34 Ethiopian Christians was discovered near Sirte in December 2018, more than three years after IS published a video showing its personnel executing at least 28 men described as Ethiopian Christians.

AFP

Seven Dead In IS Attack On Bus Carrying Egyptian Christians

Egyptians check on their relative, who was wounded after gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians, at the Sheikh Fadel hospital in Beni Mazar on November 2, 2018. STRINGER / AFP

 

Gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt on Friday, killing seven in the latest assault on the religious minority claimed by the Islamic State group.

The attackers opened fire on the bus of pilgrims in Minya province after they had visited a monastery, the local bishop told AFP.

Bishop Makarios of Minya said the wounded had been taken to a hospital in Beni Mazar, around 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Cairo.

The attack took place on the road back from the Saint Samuel monastery, he added, as the bus was heading to the city of Sohag.

A security source confirmed that seven people were killed in the attack and seven wounded.

The Islamic State group claimed the attack in a message via its propaganda agency Amaq.

“Those who carried out the ambush… in Minya are fighters of the Islamic State,” Amaq said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

Egyptian state television said security forces were on Friday afternoon still in pursuit of the attackers.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered his support to the victims in a statement on Twitter.

“I am mourning with deep sadness the martyrs who fell today at the hands of traitors who are trying to harm the tightly-knit fabric of the nation,” Sisi said.

“I wish the wounded a quick recovery and confirm our determination to continue our efforts to fight the darkness of terrorism and pursue the criminals.”

Egypt’s prosecutor’s office said it had received reports of “gunfire targeting a bus carrying a group of Copts returning from the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor”.

Copts hit by attacks

Copts, a Christian minority that make up 10 per cent of Egypt’s 96 million people, have in recent years been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State jihadist group.

IS killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April 2017 and a month later shot dead 28 Christians in Minya province.

Egypt’s government imposed a three-month countrywide state of emergency after the April 2017 church bombings.

In December 2017 an IS gunman killed nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.

A year earlier, an IS suicide bomber killed almost 30 worshippers at a church in Cairo located in the Saint Mark’s Cathedral complex, the seat of the Coptic papacy.

The Egyptian army launched a major offensive in February 2018 against IS in the Sinai Peninsula, where the group has waged a deadly insurgency since the fall of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Alongside attacks against Copts, the jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen in Egypt in recent years and were allegedly behind a November 2017 attack against a mosque in north Sinai that killed more than 300 people.

The military offensive — Dubbed “Sinai 2018” — has killed more than 450 jihadists, according to an army estimate, while around 30 Egyptian soldiers have been killed during this year’s operation.

Egyptian authorities have also convicted jihadists for their role in attacks against Copts.

Last month an Egyptian military court sentenced 17 people to death over the suicide attacks against churches in 2016 and 2017.

Copts have long complained of discrimination in Egypt and IS is not the only group to have launched sectarian attacks against the community.

In December 2017, hundreds of Muslims attacked a church south of Cairo that had been operating without a permit for more than a dozen years.

 

AFP

Egypt Holds Funeral For Christians Killed By Gunmen

Thousands attended a funeral service on Friday for those killed in an attack after gunmen targeted a group of Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery in central Egypt, killing 28.

The funeral turned into an angry protest against what mourners said was the authorities’ failure to protect Christians

“What more are we going to see from Sisi? What more are we going to see from him? What more is he going to do? Enough is enough,” a mourner said.

A male mourner said, “Every day they kill us. Why is that? What have we done? What have we done? Every day they kill us. Are they going to kill us every day? Why is this happening? The Botroseya and those who were killed in Libya and then the monastery. What’s happening? Where’s the government? The police were standing outside and didn’t want to enter [the site].”

A woman at the funeral, however, left vengeance to God.

“God will avenge us. God is the one who will avenge us. Those who died are our brothers. They’re all our brothers. They aren’t strangers to us. We’re all one village and one family here,” she said.
Eyewitnesses said masked men opened fire after stopping the Christians, who were in a bus and other vehicles on a desert road.

Local TV channels showed a bus apparently raked by gunfire and smeared with blood.

Egyptian Court Jails Prominent Activist For Five Years

Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah speaks in front of a judge at an Egyptian Court during his trialAn Egyptian court has sentenced a leading activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, to five years in jail, for violating limits on demonstrations, which is one of the toughest crackdowns on dissent in Egypt’s history.

After the verdict was read out on Monday, chants of “Down, down with military rule!” rang out from supporters of the activist, crowded into the courtroom.

Abdel Fattah, a blogger and software developer, was a leading secular figure in the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

He was originally sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail, along with 24 others, before a retrial was ordered.

He is one of the several activists to have been jailed since the army overthrew Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, in mid-2013 and launched a crackdown not only on his Muslim Brotherhood, but also on secular democracy activists.

Laila Seif, Abdel Fattah’s mother, said she hopes her son would draw on the strength that helped his father, Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad, a human rights lawyer, through a five-year sentence under Mubarak.

One other defendant, Ahmed Abdulrahman, also received five years in jail, 18 accused received three years and others who were tried in absentia were given 15 years but Abdulrahman’s lawyer said his client would appeal.

The same court also adjourned to March 8, the trial of two Al Jazeera television journalists charged with aiding a terrorist organization – a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

215 Members Of Egypt Muslim Brotherhood Referred To Court

Egypt-muslim-brotherhood215 members of the outlawed Egypt Muslim Brotherhood has been referred to court trial on charges of forming a militant group, the latest move in a sustained crackdown by authorities on Islamist.

Egypt’s Public Prosecutor, Hesham Barakat, said in a statement on Sunday, that the 215 defendants were charged with forming a militant group called “Helwan Brigades”.

Egypt has mounted one of the biggest crackdowns in its modern history on the Brotherhood, following the army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, the country’s first freely-elected president, in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

The prosecution’s investigation said that the group was responsible for killing at least six policemen and wounding several civilians and policemen in separate attacks in Cairo.

The group also possessed weapons and ammunition.

125 members of the group are in detention and Barakat ordered the arrest of those at large.

Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested and put on mass trials in a campaign, which Human Rights groups said “it shows the government is systematically repressing opponents”.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Mursi, described the Brotherhood as a major security threat, but the movement said it was committed to peaceful activism.

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Ismailia, Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in March 1928 as an Islamist religious, political, and social movement.

The group spread to other Muslim countries but has its largest, or one of its largest organisations in Egypt.

For many years, it has been the largest, best-organised, and most disciplined political opposition force, despite a succession of government crackdowns in 1948, 1954, 1965 after alleged plots of assassination and overthrow were uncovered.

Following the 2011 Revolution, the group was legalised and in April 2011, it launched a civic political party called the Freedom and Justice Party (Egypt) to contest elections.

 

Egypt Bombs IS After Be-Heading Video

egyptEgypt said it has bombed Islamic State targets in Libya, hours after the group published a video showing the apparent be-heading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

A Libyan air force commander said 40 to 50 militants were killed in Monday’s air strikes against Islamic State targets in Libya.

“There are casualties among the individuals, ammunition and the communication centers belonging to them,” Saqer al-Joroushi said “The number of deaths are not less than 40 or 50 for sure,” he said.

Libyan officials said Egypt had hit targets in the militant-held city of Derna in co-ordination with Libya.

Libya said it had joined and coordinate with Egypt on the strikes.

IS militants claimed to have carried out several attacks in Libya, which is in effect without a government.

The kidnapped Egyptian workers, all Coptic Christians, were seized in December and January from the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya, under the control of Islamist groups.

A video emerged on Sunday showing militants forcing a group of men to the ground and decapitating them.

ISIS Kills 21 Egyptians In Libya

ISISISIS, in a video released on Sunday, claimed to have beheaded over a dozen members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority on a Libyan beach.

The video which has gone viral shows an apparent mass execution with jihadists in black, standing behind each of the victims, who were all are dressed in orange jumpsuits being forced to the ground and decapitated.

The five-minute video released by the terror group’s propaganda wing al-Hayat Media, includes a masked English-speaking jihadi who says, “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah, we will mix it with your blood.”

A caption on the five-minute video read: “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.” Before the killings, one of the militants stood with a knife in his hand and said: “Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for.”

Then on cue, all the victims were pushed to the ground and beheaded.

ISIS had imposed its brutal rule on the large areas of Iraq and Syria that it controls, but the be-headings of the Egyptians appeared to have been carried out by an affiliate of the militant group in Libya.

ISIS militants claimed to have carried out several attacks in Libya, which is in effect without a government.

The beheadings could stiffen Sisi’s resolve in dealing with security threats from militants thriving in neighboring Libya’s chaos who want to topple his U.S.-backed government.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed in a statement that Egyptian “martyrs” had fallen victim to terrorism and expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people.

El-Sisi called for an urgent meeting of the Council of National Defense and declared seven days of official mourning.

Twenty-one Egyptian Christians were kidnapped in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte in two separate incidents in December and January. Officials said all of them had been killed.

El-Sisi said Egypt reserves the right to retaliate for the killings.

“Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Sunday after the grisly video emerged.

“The secretary offered his condolences on behalf of the American people and strongly condemned the despicable act of terror,” the State Department said. “Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Shoukry agreed to keep in close touch as Egyptians deliberated on a response.”

The White House also condemned the attack, saying ISIS’ “barbarity knows no bounds.”

Members of the U.N. Security Council strongly condemned what they called “the heinous and cowardly apparent murder” of the 21 Egyptians.

“This crime once again demonstrates the brutality of ISIL, which is responsible for thousands of crimes and abuses against people from all faiths, ethnicities and nationalities, and without regard to any basic value of humanity.”

Thousands of Egyptians desperate for work had traveled to Libya since an uprising at home in 2011, despite advice from their government not to go to a country sliding into lawlessness.

The Coptic Church said it was confident the Egyptian government would seek justice. Al Azhar, the center of Islamic learning in Egypt, said no religion would accept such “barbaric” acts.

Three killed, Dozens injured as mourners bid farewell to Pope Shenouda III

Three people were killed and dozens more injured Sunday when thousands of grieving Coptic Christians packed St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo to bid farewell to Pope Shenouda III.

The Deputy Health Minister Hisham Sheeha, said overcrowding in the building resulted in a stampede, killing three mourners and injuring 52 others, most of which suffered from low blood pressure and insufficient oxygen.

Shenouda died Saturday at age 88 after a long illness, setting in motion the process to elect a new patriarch for the Middle East’s largest Christian community.

Tens of thousands of mourners converged on the cathedral in a line that stretched for nearly a mile (1.6km), as military vehicles lined the road outside.

Shenouda’s body, dressed in formal robes with a golden crown on his head, was placed upright on the tall ornate papal throne where it will remain sitting in state until the funeral Tuesday.

Based on wishes stated in his will, Shenouda will be buried at St. Bishoy monastery of Wadi Natrun in the Nile Delta, where he spent time in exile after a dispute with the late president Anwar Sadat.