Update: Arrests in Christian slaughter

Update: Arrests in Christian slaughter
Egyptian laborers work on the restoration of the Coptic Christian Cathedral complex in the aftermath of a bomb attack, in Cairo, Egypt December 17, 2016.

Authorities report four arrests connected to the bombing that killed dozens of Christians last month. The death toll from the attack at St Peter and St Paul Coptic Orthodox church rose to 26 this week. 

  • Relatives of those who died, who witnessed the explosion, spoke of terrifying and chaotic scenes as a wall of the church collapsed on worshippers, and of desperate efforts to find loved ones amid the rubble and shattered pews. 
  • Egyptian police have arrested four people in the wake of the bombing that killed dozens of Christians at Cairo's Coptic Christian cathedral last month, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
  • The death toll from the bombing at a chapel next to St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo has risen to 28, the Health Ministry added. 
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing. 

Egyptian police have arrested four people in connection with the bombing that killed dozens of Christians at Cairo's Coptic Christian cathedral last month, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said following the attack that the perpetrator was a man named Mahmoud Shafik, who had worn a suicide vest, and that security forces were seeking two more people in conjunction with the attack. 

The Interior Ministry said it had arrested one of the two, as well as three others who were part of the same cell. It added that one man was still on the run. 

World Watch Monitor reports President Sisi, who attended funerals at the cathedral for the victims, attended Christmas Eve Mass in the Coptic Cathedral for the third year. He reiterated his promise to rebuild all churches destroyed or damaged in the violence of August 2013. He also pledged 100,000 Egyptian pounds (5,400 US dollars) towards construction of what will become the largest church (built at the same time as the largest new mosque) in a new political and administrative area planned for the edge of Cairo. He said the church is due to be inaugurated in 2018. 

Police also seized improvised explosive devices, shotguns, and ammunition with those it arrested, the ministry said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened more attacks against Christians but Egypt has sought to link the attack to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The ministry said in December that Mahmoud Shafik, the alleged bomber, was a supporter of the group. It said on Wednesday that one of the people it arrested was also a supporter of the Brotherhood but it did not mention if the others had any affiliation. 

The Brotherhood has condemned the attack and accused Sisi's administration of failing to protect the church. Sisi has dismissed the accusation.

Sisi took power in 2013, deposing Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood, and has since outlawed the group as part of a crackdown in which hundreds of its supporters have been killed and thousands jailed. An Islamist insurgency in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has gained pace since and pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.

World Watch Monitor wrote an article highlighting the lives of the Christian victims. 

Reuters / World Watch Monitor / TRUNEWS summary. 

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