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Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Egypt's ministry of interior did not ask Christian residents to leave North Sinai

Dozens of Christian families have fled North Sinai after a spike in killings by Islamist militants

Mahmoud Aziz , Sunday 26 Feb 2017
ismailia
Christian families who left from Al-Arish in the North Sinai Governorate after the escalation of a campaign targeting Christians by Islamic State militants last week, arrive at the Evangelical Church in Ismailia, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Egypt's Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said during a meeting with top security officials Sunday that the ministry has not asked any citizen to leave North Sinai.
 
Dozens of Christian families have fled the city of Arish in North Sinai in the last few days, after at least seven Chrisitians were killed in the governorate in the last month. A number of the killings were claimed by Islamic State-affiliated militants.
 
During the meeting, Abdel-Ghaffar said the ministry is responsible for the safety of all citizens across the whole state, including North Sinai, vowing to continue the fight against terrorism, sparing no effort.  
 
In the past few days, churches in Ismailia governorate received dozens of Coptic families who fled homes in North Sinai out of fear of more attacks by Islamist militants.
 
On Saturday, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered the government to take all necessary measures to provide aid to Coptic Christians who have fled their homes in North Sinai.
 
In a cabinet meeting attended by the president, El-Sisi stressed the importance of countering attempts to “undermine security and stability in Egypt,” saying the displaced families have been “received and housed until terrorist elements are dealt with.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the establishment of an operations room to coordinate the provision of services to the families.
 
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church condemned "the repeated terrorist attacks targeting Egyptian Christians in North Sinai" in statement Friday.
 
Last week, the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a church in Cairo in December, and called on its supporters to attack Christians across the country. Several days after the video was released, three Christians were murdered in Arish.
 
Christians are estimated to make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
 
In July 2016, Father Rafael Moussa of the Mar Girgis Church in Arish was gunned also down by Islamic State-affliated militants.
 
The Egyptian army has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in North Sinai for several years.
 
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the Islamic State-affliated group, has killed hundreds of security personnel, as well as a number of civilians they accuse of cooperating with authorities.
 
The army has killed hundreds of militants in turn, in intensified and comprehensive military campaigns in the governorate.
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