Note the detail in the second story below, as reported by the Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm: the gunman checked people’s wrists for a traditional Coptic tattoo of a cross before shooting. “Policeman shoots Christian dead in southern Egypt,” by Hamza Hendawi for the Associated Press, January 11 (thanks to Steve):
CAIRO – An off-duty policeman boarded a train and opened fire on Tuesday, killing a 71-year-old Christian man and wounding his wife and four others, the Interior Ministry said. The attack, less than two weeks after the suicide bombing of a church killed 21, sparked new demonstrations by enraged Christians who pelted police with stones in southern Egypt.
The church attack on worshippers leaving a New Year’s Mass in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria touched off three days of riots and demonstrations by furious Christians who criticized the government for failing to protect them and vented over what they see as persistent discrimination.
All of the casualties in the latest attack were Christians — four of them women — raising concerns it will ignite a new wave of protests by a community still traumatized by the suicide bombing.
Soon after the attack, hundreds of angry Copts gathered outside the hospital where the wounded were being treated in the central Egyptian province of Minya and stoned police.
It was not immediately clear whether the gunman knew his targets were Christians. But four of the five wounded were Christian women who stand out in the conservative south as they would probably not have been wearing headscarves as most Muslim women do.
The ministry statement identified the policeman as Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher, a 23-year-old Muslim, and said he boarded the Cairo-bound train at the town of Samalout in Minya province and opened fire on the passengers with a handgun.
The statement added that Abdel-Zaher, who was not wearing a uniform, was on his way to work at a town near Samalout. Police arrested him at his nearby home after he fled the scene and he was being questioned, according to the ministry statement.
The train originated in Assiut which, like Samalout, is home to a substantial Christian community….
More: “Egypt: Christian shot dead and several others injured in train attack,” from AdnKronos International, January 11:
Salamalout, 11 Jan. (AKI) – An elderly Coptic Christian man was shot dead and five other people were injured when an unidentified gunman on Tuesday boarded a northbound train in Upper Egypt and opened fire on passengers, security and medical officials said, cited by daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
An unnamed security source was cited as telling Al-Masry Al-Youm that police had identified the victim as Fathy Ghattas, 71, from Cairo’s middle-class Zeitoun neighborhood.
The paper cited the same source as saying investigators were probing reports that the gunman may have been a policeman.
Police arrested the man as he attempted to flee the scene, according to security officials.
Officials cited by the paper said the gunman had boarded the Cairo-bound train at the town of Samalout in Egypt’s Minya province, roughly 260 kilometres south of Cairo.
The gunman allegedly checked passengers for the green cross traditionally tattooed on the wrists of Coptic Christians in Egypt. After identifying several Copts, he killed one of them and injured five others, several of them Christians, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
Their report can be found here.
Other local media reports differed on the dynamics of the shootings, with some suggesting they were random and others that they followed a disagreement between Muslim and Christian passengers on the train.
Even if there were a “disagreement,” it was the Christians who wound up getting shot.
Al-Masry Al-Youm said Egypt’s state news agency Mena had confirmed the incident and reported that police were currently questioning the alleged gunman….