Eye witness describes the Egypt train shooting

Ayman Farouk, Wednesday 12 Jan 2011

Passenger reveals how the gunman fired indiscriminately as he moved through the carriage, targeting neither Copts nor Muslims

The coffin of a 71-year-old Christian man
The coffin of a 71-year-old Christian man who was killed when an off-duty policeman boarded a train and opened fire late Tuesday in southern Egypt, is carried during a funeral service at a Cairo church (Photo: Ap)

Mahmoud Abdel Baset Hamid, a 22 year old factory worker, describes in a phone interview with Ahram Online the tragic events that took place on the Assiut-Cairo number 979 train.

"When the train stopped at Samalout station, I noticed a policeman entering. He opened the door behind him, and because the train stopped and then was moving unsteadily, he fell against some of the seats so as not to fall down. Five or six steps after entering the carriage he stopped and looked at me and the other passengers around my seat like a scene in a film and I noticed him release the grip of his gun and he fired six or seven shots indiscriminately to his right and left and started to return to the door.  

"Like the rest of the passengers, I tried to hide after I heard the first three shots but the passenger next to me beat me to hiding behind the two seats in front of me so I raised part of my head and saw the gunman coming towards me pointing his gun in my direction so I decided to pounce on him before he kills me.

"He tried to push my head with his left hand after I gathered all his strength to hold his right hand and control his weapon. He fell on the ground and tried to push me with his left hand and kick me until I held on to his clothes with my right hand, trying to pull him towards me, so he started to slip off the jacket he was wearing and left it. Then he rushed out of the door and the area between the two carriages and disappeared from the train.

"I looked to my left and saw the injured drowned in their blood, I was distracted by it and the other passengers tried to help them. Within moments we were surrounded by security and police who asked about the incident and found the jacket, they looked in the jacket and found a wallet, papers, and cell phone belonging to the accused. They took me with them to the station, while I was still giving my testimony I saw some police officers in the station with the accused and so I yelled "he is the one who opened fire"

Answering the question of whether the gunman targeted Copts, Abdel Baset said that the accused turned round and fired without identifying his victims and the wounded did not appear to have Muslim or Coptic features or identifiable clothing nor did he ask any of them for identification.

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