Two of the victims are said to be police officers. A gunman with explosive belt was also shot dead. The target was the Mar Mina church in Helwan, south of Cairo. Fearing attacks, the authorities have been on a high state of alert for days.

Cario (AsiaNews) – At least ten people have been killed and twenty wounded in an attack on a Coptic Orthodox church this morning in Helwan, an area south of Cairo.

Two of the victims were said to be be police officers. One gunman was shot dead by security forces (pictured). Although information remains uncertain, a second gunman appears to have escaped and is still at large.

The target of the attack was the Mar Mina Coptic Church, which was preparing to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.

The authorities have been on a high state of alert for days in fear of possible attacks, with rapid reaction forces deployed.

Eyewitnesses said that security forces defused an explosive belt that was fasten around the dead gunman. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A group of Catholics was visiting the neighbourhood for the traditional exchange of good wishes with local Christian families.

Sources told AsiaNews that police sealed the area, blocking access. Visitors already there were asked to leave the area "immediately".

In a nation of almost 95 million people with a large Muslim majority, Coptic Christians are a substantial minority of around 10 per cent of the population.

Last year the country aw a series of bloody attacks, some involving Christians. The escalation of violence almost led to the cancellation of Pope Francis’s apostolic journey to Egypt last April.

However, the pontiff was able to visit the country where he met with its president and the great imam of al-Azhar and celebrated Mass before tens of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, Catholic Christmas took place amid tight security measures, but no incidents were reported as crowds filled the churches.

Now “the celebrations of the Coptic Orthodox Church can be held,” Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, told AsiaNews. “The alarm levels are high, an attempt at attack can never be ruled out,” which is what happened today. (DS)

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Gunmen-attack-Coptic-church-south-of-Cairo,-killing-ten-and-wounding-at-least-20-42701.html


Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not lose sight of these — keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul." (Proverbs 3:21,22a ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven