Cairo — Three knife-wielding assailants stabbed worshippers in simultaneous attacks during Friday Mass at three Coptic churches in the northern Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen others, police officials said.The attackers fled, and police cordoned off the churches and set up checkpoints in an effort to find them.
One worshipper was killed and at least two others were in serious condition, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Initial police reports said a total of 17 people were injured. Hundreds of Christians gathered in angry protest outside the churches.
Witnesses said clashes erupted between Christians and Muslims in the Sidi Bishr neighbourhood, the site of Saints Church, where 10 people were reported wounded in the knife attack. Police said three people were wounded at the nearby Mar Girgis (St. George) Church, and four attacked at a church in Abu Qir, a few kilometres to the east.
The AP account does point out that Coptic Christians celebrate Easter a week later but I can’t help but speculate if this move by Egyptian authorities had any influence over today’s events (African News Dimension):
Some 950 former members of the militant Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) have been freed from detention in the past six weeks by the Egyptian authorities, police sources said yesterday. The latest batch of 300 detainees were released on Tuesday.
The Egyptian government detained many thousands of Gama'a members or sympathisers in the 1990s, when the group was waging a low-level guerrilla war against the security forces, mainly in the south of the country. Hundreds have been released over the years after renouncing the use of violence to overthrow the government. Gama'a leaders declared a truce with the government in 1997, after an attack on tourists at a pharaonic temple in Luxor.
The big release on Tuesday was to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, a traditional occasion for setting prisoners free, the police sources said.