Precede CAIRO 5 Copts, 2 Policemen, Civilian Slain in Southern Egypt
ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) _ Suspected Islamic radicals shot two policemen and a civilian to death today, hours after a drive-by shooting killed a boy, two priests and two other people outside an ancient Coptic Christian monastery.
The attack at the Deir el-Muharraq monastery Friday night was the deadliest assault on Coptic Christians in nearly two years. The monastery is a popular pilgrimage site just north of Assiut, a city 200 miles south of Cairo that has been a center of Islamic extremist turmoil for more than a decade.
Today, gunmen killed a policeman at Qurqares, south of Assiut, then shot his brother to death and wounded his father when they went to his aid. Attackers also killed a policeman and wounded a civilian at El-Badari, a Nile River island near Assiut where several officers have been slain recently.
Earlier today, gunmen shot at the Aswan-Cairo train near El-Qusiya north of Assiut, but no one was injured.
The Interior Ministry said an unknown number of gunmen drove by the monastery and opened fire as people were entering. A 13-year-old boy, two priests and two other Copts died and four people were wounded.
It was the worst attack on Copts since May 1992, when Muslim extremists killed 13 Christian farmers and their Muslim friend in a dispute over a soured land deal.
At least 320 people, mostly extremists and police officers, have died in the militants’ violent campaign to replace President Hosni Mubarak’s largely secular government with Islamic rule.
Earlier this month, three Copts were killed and three wounded in an attack in the area of Assiut also blamed on Muslim extremists.