France condemns deadly attack on Egyptian border guards, killing of Coptic priest in North Sinai

Ahram Online , Friday 1 Jul 2016

Sisi and Hollande
File Photo: Egyptian President Abdelfattah El-Sisi and his French counterpart Francois Hollande review the honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the al-Quba presidential palace in Cairo on April 17, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

France condemned on Friday the killing of six Egyptian border guards in a shootout with smugglers on Thursday near Egypt's western border with Libya, as well as the killing of a Coptic priest in North Sinai by unknown assailants.

French foreign ministry spokesman Roman Nadal expressed his country's condolences to the families of the victims, affirming France's solidarity with Egypt in fighting terrorism.

Egypt and France enjoy strong ties, with the leaders of both countries stressing in recent meetings the importance of coordinated efforts in the fight against terrorism.

On Thursday, Egypt's army said that a group of smugglers opened fire on border guards on patrol, killing two officers and four conscripts before fleeing westward.

The army said that a number of smugglers were also killed or injured, without providing further details.

Egypt's interior ministry also announced on Thursday that Reverend Rafael Moussa, the head priest at St George Church in El-Arish, was shot down by a group of unknown assailants in North Sinai, where Egyptian security forces have been fighting a decade-long Islamist insurgency in parts of the governorate since 2013.

The Islamic State militant group's Egyptian affiliate claimed responsibility for the murder of the priest in a statement posted online, accusing him of "fighting Islam."

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