Egypt train shooting not sectarian, claims government

AFP and Ahram Online, Wednesday 12 Jan 2011

Egyptian officials keen to portray the fatal shooting as nothing to do with the country's current sectarian tensions


Ahmed Diaa El-Din, governor of Minya where the Samalout train shooting is located, denied that the attack was religiously motivated.

Moreover, a security official said the suspect, who was arrested after the shooting, told investigators that he had felt "irritated and frustrated" because he was short on money. He did not say he specifically targeted Christians.

"It has to do with his personal mental state. It had nothing to do with the religion of his victims," the official told AFP. "He boarded the train suddenly and emptied his pistol."

Nevetheless, General Prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud decided to detain the gunman, identified as Amer Ashour, a 23 year old policeman, for fifteen days pending investigations.

One passenger, a 71 year old Coptic man, was killed and five wounded.

Ashour is accused of premeditated murder. The incident occurred last night when Ashour boarded train 979 between Assiut and Cairo in the southern town of Samalout and opened fire. He was arrested after trying to flee.

The attack sparked a protest outside a hospital in Samalout overnight as hundreds of Copts gathered. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

The fatal shooting comes less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 23 congregants outside an Alexandria church following a New Year's Eve mass.

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