By Linda Bordoni
Twin attacks targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt left 12 people dead on Friday.
Officials said ten people died when gunmen tried to storm a church south of Cairo, but were intercepted by police.
About an hour later, a Coptic-owned shop in the same area was attacked, leaving two dead.
Condemnation of Copt Bishop
Egyptian Bishop Antonios Mina immediately decried the attack and bitterly expressed his opinion that increasingly “the dead risk being seen only as numbers”.
Speaking to Fides news agency Copt Bishop Anba Antonios Mina, emeritus of Guizeh said “the risk is that people’s hearts grow as hard as stones as they become used to hearing about attacks and do not think of the lives that are behind those numbers.”
Egypt’s Christians an embattled minority
Egypt’s Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic militants in a series of attacks since December 2016 that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded.
Friday’s attack on the mostly Muslim country’s minority was carried out by unidentified gunmen outside the Coptic Church of Mar Mina. Two policemen were amongst those killed in the shootout.
A witness said people inside the church closed the gates when the shootout began but bullets from the gunfire still entered the building.
State of emergency
The country has been under a state of emergency since April after suicide bombings struck two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday in an attack that was claimed by the local affiliate of the so-called Islamic State group.
Egyptian security forces have put checkpoints in place around the capital in response to the attacks.
They had announced plans earlier this week to protect festivities around the New Year and Coptic Christmas.
But Bishop Antonios Mina disagreed with the idea that terrorists are trying to dissuade tourists from coming to the Muslim country: “they want to take away our smiles” he said “they want Christians here to live in sadness”.