SHARONA, EGYPT — A Middle East journalist is reporting news of the shocking massacre of two Christian Coptic families by Islamists which has just emerged from Upper Egypt with the return of the Internet connections after a week of Internet blackout by the Egyptian regime.
Mary Abdelmassih, writing for the Assyrian International News Agency (www.aina.org) says that the carnage took place on Sunday, January 30, 2011, at 3 PM in the village of Sharona near Maghagha, Minya province.
“Two Islamists groups, aided by the Muslim neighbors, descended on the roof of houses owned by Copts, killing eleven Copts, including children, and seriously injuring four others,” she said.
Abdelmassih said that Anba Agathon, Bishop of Maghagha, told Coptic activist Dr. Mona Roman in a televised interview on a Christian Arabic TV station that the killers are their neighbors, who seized the opportunity of the mayhem prevailing in Egypt and the absence of police protection to slaughter the Copts.
He said that he had visited the four injured Copts, who escaped death despite being shot, at Maghagha General Hospital and they told him that they recognized the main attackers as they come from the same village of Sharona. They gave the Bishop details of what happened.
“The two families were staying in their homes with their doors locked when suddenly the Islamists descended on them,” said Bishop Agathon, “killing eleven and leaving for dead four other family members. In addition, they looted everything that was in the two Coptic houses, including money, furniture and electrical equipment. They also looted livestock and grain.”
The journalist went on to say that, according to the Bishop, the first group was led by Islamist Ibrahim Hamdy Ibrahim, who was joined by a gang of masked assailants. They accessed the roof of the house of Copt Joseph Waheeb Massoud through the roof of his Muslim neighbor Mahgoub el Khawaled. The armed men killed Joseph, his wife Samah, his 15-year old daughter Christine and 8-year-old son Fady Youssef.
Another Islamist group led by Yasser Essam Khaled and several masked men simultaneously accessed the house of Copt Saleeb Ayad Mayez through the roof of his Muslim neighbor Mohamad Hussein el Khawaed. The Islamist shot dead Saleeb, his wife Zakia, his 4-year-old son Joseph, 3-year-old daughter Justina, his 23-year-old sister Amgad, mother Zakia and Ms. Saniora Fahim.
“The police in Minya were called and they transferred the bodies in ambulances to Maghagha Hospital,” said Abdelmassih.
“The Bishop denied any vendetta between the Copts and the Muslims. He called on the police to arrest the Islamist perpetrators immediately, as everyone knows they are the neighbors of the victims.”
Abdelmassih quoted him as saying, “The massacre has nothing to do with the mayhem in Egypt, but the murderers took advantage of the lack of police protection and thought they could commit their crime and no one would notice.”
Abdelmassih concluded her story by saying that Coptic activist, Dr. Hanna Hanna, views the Mubarak era, with its policy of impunity, to be the cause of why Copts are targeted.
“Why have those Islamists chosen those two Coptic families and not Muslim ones to slaughter and rob?” he asked. “I believe it is because they know that with Copts they can literally get away with murder.”