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Two policemen killed outside Egyptian church

The incident raises fears of possible violence during the Coptic Christmas celebrations which will begin at midnight

Ahram Online , Tuesday 6 Jan 2015
An Egyptian riot police is seen outside the Coptic Orthodox church
File Photo: An Egyptian riot police is seen outside the Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt, January 1, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)
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Unknown gunmen shot and killed, on Tuesday, two Egyptian policemen guarding a church in southern Egypt, Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website reported.

The incident took place just a day before Egyptian Coptic Christians are due to celebrate their Christmas.

Security sources told Al-Ahram that the two men were shot dead by masked assailants while standing guard outside the central Virgin Mary church in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya.

 

The death of the two policemen heightens fears over possible violence on the occasion of Coptic Christmas as Egypt's interior ministry said it has tightened up measures to secure churches countrywide.

 

In 2011, a new year’s eve bombing outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria killed almost two dozen people and injured tens of others in one of the most deadly incidents of violence against Egypt's Copts.

 

Bombings and drive-by shootings have become more frequent in Egypt since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent insurgency based in the border Sinai region.

During violence taking place following Morsi's ouster, dozens of churches and Christian-owned properties were burned or destroyed in Egypt's south, home to large segment of Christians ho make up 10% of the country's population of 87 million.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood distanced itself from the attacks, which it said were plotted by authorities to justify a fierce crackdown on Islamists.

Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians, the largest nomination of the country's Christian population, celebrate Christmas on 7 January according to their Julian calendar.

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