Copts blame Muslims, government

Jan. 3, 2011 at 11:59 PM
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CAIRO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Coptic Christian leaders say the Egyptian government has failed to protect the community from Muslim extremists.

The government has increased security following the deadly bombing at an Alexandria church, especially with the Coptic Christmas approaching. Officials said police officers' leave was canceled, security has been increased at the country's airports and ports, and checkpoints were set up to prevent suspects from escaping, the al-Arabiya television station in Dubai reported Monday.

The government blames foreign terrorists. Copts disagree.

"We are not talking about movements in the scale of al-Qaida but other, smaller groups using violence against Copts do exist in Egypt," Rafik Habib, a prominent Coptic intellectual, told the Los Angeles Times. "We have many Muslims who have developed a way of hatred toward Copts and believe that Copts are empowered by the West to confront anything Muslim."

Protesters at the Coptic headquarters Sunday forced an early end to a meeting between Egyptian officials and Coptic Pope Shenouda III.

The Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported authorities compiled a list of 15 foreigners who entered the country in December and said the country's Traffic Department has a list of 13 cars parked near the site of the explosion.

The Dubai-based television station said Egyptian officials, after questioning witnesses to the bombing, compiled a description of the key suspect, who they said had a fair complexion, wore glasses and was about 5 feet 11 inches tall.

Witnesses told officials they heard two explosions within 5 minutes of each other.

A security official at the church told authorities that prior to the attack he saw a Skoda car with three passengers park opposite the church. Two of the passengers got out and one remained inside the car, he said.

Forensic experts said the bomb contained large amounts of metal objects and TNT explosives and was most likely made locally, al-Arabiya said.

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