Number of Copts killed by militants in North Sinai this year rises to 7

Militants killed another Coptic resident of Arish on Thursday, bringing the number of victims in the latest wave of sectarian violence against Copts in North Sinai to seven.

After breaking into his house in the Zohour neighborhood in North Sinai’s capital, militants murdered an unidentified Coptic man in front of his family, a local source told Mada Masr.

There are conflicting reports on the fate of the family following the murder, the source added, with some reporting that militants followed the family after it fled and were able to capture and kill the victim’s daughter, while others claim that it was his son who was kidnapped.

The murder comes a day after the bodies of Coptic resident Saad al-Hakim and his son Medhat were found in Arish, North Sinai MP Hossam al-Refai confirmed to Mada Masr.

The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement on Friday condemning attacks on Copts in North Sinai, saying that the violence threatens Egypt’s “national unity and attempts to break our united stand as one front against terrorism.”

The church is responding to the latest attacks in coordination with state officials, the statement added.

Church officials told the BBC that around 40 families have fled Arish to the nearby city of Ismailia in the last two days.

Multiple incidents of sectarian violence have taken place in North Sinai throughout the last month. Local sources reported the murder of veterinarian Bahgat William outside a pharmacy he owned two weeks ago, while another Coptic resident, Adel Shawky, was reportedly killed on the same day. Last week, Gamal Tawfik, a Coptic teacher and shoe trader, was killed by militants in the middle of a busy market in Arish.

This spate of attacks on Copts began with the death of Coptic vendor Wael Youssef inside his shop in a commercial area in Arish at the end of January.

Islamic State-affiliated militant group Province of Sinai — the peninsula’s most active militant group — released a video this month claiming responsibility for a church bombing near Cairo’s main Cathedral last December, in which at least 28 worshippers died, and threatening more violence against Egypt’s Coptic community.

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