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

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing." (Proverbs 9:13 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Humility is the only thing we need; one can still fall having virtues other than humility -- but with humility one does not fall.

Elder Herman of Mt. Athos