Egypt: Islamic State claims deadly attack at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai — One of the world’s oldest Christian monasteries

AFP and Reuters

© Pedro Costa Gomez, AFP | Located at the foot of Mount Sinai, St. Catherine’s is one of the world’s oldest Christian monasteries.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack on a police checkpoint about 800 metres from the entrance to the monastery, one of the world’s most important Christian sites.

The attack comes just 10 days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt and just over a week after two deadly suicide bombings on Christian churches, also claimed by the jihadist group, plunged the country into mourning and marked one of the bloodiest days for the country’s Christian minority in decades.

St. Catherine’s, founded in the 6th century and located at the foot of Mount Sinai, is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is part of the Eastern Orthodox church.

Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about 10 percent of the country’s 92 million people, has increasingly been targeted by Islamist militants, with three deadly church attacks in the span of four months.

In February, scores of Christian families and students fled North Sinai province after a spate of targeted killings.

A successful assault on St. Catherine’s would be the latest challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect the religious minority as part of his campaign against extremism.

SINAI ATTACK TARGETS CHRISTIAN ‘SYMBOL’

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamist insurgency in the rugged and thinly populated northern Sinai, which gained pace after the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Attacks in Egypt’s southern Sinai, a popular destination for tourists dotted with Red Sea resorts, are by contrast rare.

Security sources told Reuters that security had been put on high alert at tourist facilities across southern Sinai after the attack.

The attack in southern Sinai comes as Russia is expected to make a long-awaited decision on whether to restore flights to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort after a Russian airliner was downed in 2015, dealing a serious blow to the area’s tourism industry, which relies heavily on Russian visitors.

Image result for Sharm el-Sheikh, russian airliner crash, photos, metrojet

This was about the largest part of the Russian Metrojet destroyed by a bomb after leaving Sharm el-Sheikh. Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed Saturday, October 31, 2015 in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killing 224 people.

Egypt’s tourism industry, a crucial source of hard currency, has suffered in the years of turmoil that followed the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, as well as from the suspected bombing of the Russian plane, which killed all 224 on board.

Israel took the unusual step earlier this month of barring its citizens from crossing into the Sinai peninsula, saying the threat of attacks in the area inspired by IS and other jihadi groups was high.

(REUTERS)

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Related:

© AFP / by Tony Gamal-Gabriel | Mourners pray next to coffins of the victims of the blast at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark’s church the previous day during a funeral procession east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017

© Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP (file photo) | Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard on Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square on January 25, 2016.

Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on Monday.
Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on December 14, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
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Members of the special police forces stand guard to secure the area around St. Mark"s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The building bombed in December 2016 is next to St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, seat of the church’s pope. Reuters Photo

A Christian employee at Cairo's Coptic Cathedral checks for damage from the blast after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The interior of the church, where Christians had gathered, was also hit in the explosion. AP photo

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Islamist gunman Abdulgadir Masharipov killed 39 people  in the Reina nightclub shooting on January 1, 2017, in Istanbul. © Dogan News Agency/AFP/File

 (December 11, 2016)

David Dosha, the priest of the Church of Mart Shmoni, located in the Christian Iraqi town of Bartella. (Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
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26 July 2016
A photo of Priest Jacques Hamel taken from the website of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish84 year-old Father Jacques Hamel was giving morning Mass when the Islamist attackers stormed his church. AFP

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The Isis jihadist group

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One Response to “Egypt: Islamic State claims deadly attack at St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai — One of the world’s oldest Christian monasteries”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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