Cairo - Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead three people late
Sunday, including an eight-year-old girl, as they fired on a group outside a
Coptic Christian church in Cairo, Egypt's interior ministry said.
The attack was the first such assault targeting Christians
in the Egyptian capital since the military coup that ousted Islamist president
Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.
It targeted a group of people who had emerged from the
church in north Cairo's Al-Warak neighbourhood after attending a wedding, the
It said an eight-year-old girl, a woman and a man were
killed and nine others were wounded in the attack.
"There were two men on a motorbike and one of them
opened fire," said the interior ministry.
A health ministry official confirmed three people had been
killed but said 12 people had in fact been wounded.
Ahmed al-Ansari from the health ministry told AFP that four
of the 12 were in a critical condition, adding the number of wounded could
Egyptian Christians, the majority of whom are Copts, have
been targeted since the ouster of Morsi and in particular since an August 14
crackdown by security forces on two Cairo camps of Morsi's Islamist supporters.
Islamists were enraged by the deadly crackdown and they
accuse Coptic Christians of backing the coup that toppled Morsi, who belongs to
the Muslim Brotherhood and was Egypt's first democratically elected president.
Discrimination and marginalisation
This perception was fuelled by the appearance of Coptic Pope
Tawadros II alongside army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when he announced
on television Morsi's removal from office. Muslim leaders and other politicians
were also present.
Rights groups say that Copts, who account for six to 10
percent of Egypt's 85 million people, have come under attack mainly in the
provinces of Minya and Assiut in central Egypt.
On 9 October London-based Amnesty International said that
more than 200 Christian-owned properties were attacked and 43 churches
seriously damaged across the country since the August 14 crackdown against
Morsi supporters in Cairo.
In its report Amnesty International blamed Egyptian security
forces for failing to stop "revenge attacks" against Coptic
Christians after the Cairo crackdown.
"In light of previous attacks, particularly since
Morsi's ousting on 3 July, a backlash against Coptic Christians should have
been anticipated, yet security forces failed to prevent attacks or intervene to
put an end to the violence," the rights group said.
Egypt's Copts have long complained of discrimination and
marginalisation, particularly under Morsi's one-year rule.
Egypt's new army-installed government is engaged in a
widespread crackdown on Islamists, jailing more than 2 000 since the pro-Morsi
camps were stormed in August.
Morsi himself is in custody and is to go on trial on
4 November over deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents outside the
presidential palace in December 2012.
Most of the Brotherhood's leaders including its supreme guide
Mohammed Badie are also in custody.
An Egyptian court last month banned the Muslim Brotherhood
from operating and seized its assets.