CAIRO – Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers in southern Egypt, killing at least seven people as they left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, the church bishop and security officials said.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry said the attack Wednesday just before midnight was suspected as retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town. The statement said witnesses have identified the lead attacker.
The attack took place in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 40 miles from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor. A local security official confirmed that seven were dead and three seriously wounded.
Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hamadi Diocese told the Associated Press six male churchgoers and one security guard were killed. He said he had left St. John’s church just minutes before the attack.
“A driving car swerved near me, so I took the back door. By the time I shook hands with someone at the gate, I heard the mayhem, lots of machine gun shots,” he said in a telephone interview.