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EGYPT – Another Coptic Christian found dead in northern Sinai

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(Agenzia Fides) – A 40-year-old Coptic Christian was found dead with a gunshot to the neck, in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish, capital of Northern Sinai, on Thursday, February 23. The body was found inside his home, which had been set on fire. This is the third Coptic Christian killed in Al Arish in the past 48 hours, and the seventh murdered in the Sinai Peninsula in the last two weeks.

On Wednesday, February 22 the authorities found the bullet-riddled body of a Christian about 65; his son also died with him, burned alive by jihadists. On February 12, some masked men on a motorcycle gunned down a Christian veterinarian, while he was at the wheel of his own car. In late January, a 35-year-old Christian officer was killed.

In recent days, in a video posted on the Telegram messaging site, the Islamic State had promised to strike the Christian community, defined by jihadists as “the preferred prey”. Among these, the most serious was the suicide bombing on  December 11 against a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, which caused 29 victims.

A priest says 1,000 Christians have fled, with some receiving threats on their mobile phones

Hundreds of Christians have fled the city of el-Arish in Egypt after a spate of attacks by suspected Islamic militants.

A priest told the Associated Press that he and some 1,000 other Christians had fled for fear of being targeted next. He blamed lax security, saying: “You feel like this is all meant to force us to leave our homes. We became like refugees.”

It was earlier reported that militants had shot dead a Coptic Christian man, Kamel Youssef, in front of his wife and daughter. The account had been given by two officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

A priest in the city said militants then kidnapped and stabbed his daughter before dumping her body near a police station. It wasn’t immediately possible to confirm his account. Read More

SYRIA – Aleppo still under bombs. Bishop Audo: we live among the desolation of war and the consolation of God

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July 10, 2016 – “We are again under bombs. We do not know what is about to happen. Even last night we could not sleep, and this morning an artillery shell also fell in the street of our cathedral, resulting in one death and three injuries. Also for this reason we have decided not to reopen the Caritas offices, which had been closed for a few days during the Muslim feast for the end of Ramadan”.

Bishop Antoine Audo SJ, at the head of the Chaldean Diocese of Aleppo, explains to Agenzia Fides the daily horror that continues to disrupt the martyred city worn away by five years of war.

The new upsurge of bombings and mortar attacks on neighborhoods in Aleppo must also be considered, according to the Chaldean Bishop, as a reaction to the operations with which the army took control of the so-called “road of the Castle” by cutting the connections between areas occupied by rebel militiamen – including those related to jihadist acronyms – and Turkey. “They launch a hail of bullets to show they are not happy, that they are dangerous and are still strong”, notes Mgr. Audo.

In addition to fear and the count of new victims, the Chaldean Bishop also keeps track of the persistent signs of a life of faith, in the presence of factors that he defines as “a mysterious and wonderful paradox”. On one side – says the Bishop – “we are all heartbroken by what is happening, on the other side there are many that in this state meet to celebrate the sacraments, pray, share a spirit of hope and mercy.

I have just been called by the participants in a spiritual retreat organized on the mountains by the Focolare members. There were two hundred people, with ten priests. From next Thursday we will meet in Tartus with 175 operators and Caritas volunteers from all over Syria, for a few days of formation and meetings. It is a mysterious and wonderful paradox: on one hand there is the desolation of war, and on the other there is the consolation of God”.

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