Strategic observation

Spotlight: Egyptian forces hit terror camps in Libya in response to Minya shooting attack

2017-05-27 05:01:26 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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A man follows the news of a deadly attack in Egypt's southern province of Minya in Cairo, May 26, 2017. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)

CAIRO, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday that the Egyptian forces hit terrorist training camps after the shooting attack that killed 28 Copts in Upper Egypt's Minya governorate.

"Now, we have hit training camps used by those terrorists ... Egypt will not hesitate to target these terror camps anywhere," Sisi said in a televised speech aired by the state TV.

Sisi did not mention the place of the targeted camps, but Egypt's state TV have reported that the Egyptian jets have hit 6 terror bases in neighboring Libya.

Earlier on Friday, unknown gunmen opened fire on buses carrying Coptic Christians in Minya governorate, about 220 kilometers south of Cairo, killing 28 people and wounding 24.

Security sources told Xinhua that some ten gunmen in three four-wheel-drive vehicles, intercepted the victims' two buses on the way to St. Samuel Monastery in the Minya governorate, and opened fire randomly at them.

The source added that the attackers were dressed in security uniforms.

No group yet claimed responsibility for attack that was carried one day ahead of the Muslims Holy fasting month of Ramadan.

"These countries that support terrorism and provide terrorists with training and weapons must be punished," Sisi stressed.

The Egyptian president revealed that the terrorists want to the break the strong Egyptian social fabric as well as the country itself.

"They want to send a message to the Christians that the government cannot protect you...we must be careful," he said.

About 70 Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million, have been killed in bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta since December.

Those attacks were claimed by Islamic State (IS) which pledged last week in a video to target non-Muslims everywhere.

REVENGE ATTACKS

Observers believe that the IS is targeting Christians in attempt to hit back after the Egyptian army has done great achievements against terrorists in Sinai.

Samir Ghatas, chairman of Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies, said the terrorists know that the Copts are a sensitive issue for the government and causes troubles internationally for Egypt. "So they keep attacking Copts to embarrass the regime inside and outside."

"By targeting Copts, the terrorists would show the state is very weak, and would affect Egypt reputation worldwide as a country that couldn't protect Copts," he told Xinhua.

Ghatas pointed out that it would also cause division among the Egyptians themselves, adding that the terrorists also wanted to punish the Copts for supporting Sisi against the Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi.

Additionally, he said, the terrorists have a religious aspect, because they are convinced to kill whoever is not a Muslim.

GOVERNMENT FAILS TO PROTECT COPTS

Meanwhile, Kamal Habib, expert in religious movements, said the attacks against the Copts increased due to failed government security measures.

He also said that the intervention of Copts in issues related to the Islamic Sharia Law and Azhar, the highest Islamic teaching institution in the country, has led to tension that may lead radicals to think of revenge.

The expert expected that such attacks would be repeated, especially in Upper Egypt, which is "lost at the level of the development and suffers the spread of terrorism that runs groups of cells and networks."

Habib said the government has to stop tackling issues of religion in public discussions since they stir more sedition among Muslims and Christians.

"The government should enhance the moderate thinking that is based on Azhar and people of experience opinions," he said. "The government should also review the conditions in prisons that turn the radical to extremist and the extremists to terrorists."

ISLAMIC CONDEMNATION

The terror attack was largely condemned by top Islamic figures in the most populous Arab country who called for capital punishment for the perpetrators.

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb strongly condemned the terrorist attack which meant to destabilize Egypt.

Al-Tayyeb, who is currently paying an official visit to Germany, urged in a statement the Egyptians to close ranks in the face of terrorism.

"Egypt's Muslims and Christians should stand against such incidents," he said.

For his part, Egyptian Awqaf (Islamic Endowment) Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa called for an international action to punish terrorism sponsoring countries.

The minister said that Egypt is undergoing a real war against terrorism, offering his condolences to the families of the victims, wishing speedy recovery for the injured.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Mufti, highest Islamic Jurist, Shawki Allam strongly condemned the terrorist attack.

"Those traitors breached all the religious principles and humanitarian values by shedding the blood of innocent people and targeting our Coptic brothers," MENA quoted Allam as saying.