12/13/2016, 16.58
EGYPT

Muslim Brotherhood behind attack against Cairo’s Coptic cathedral

by Loula Lahham

Four people, including a woman, have been arrested in connection with Sunday’s attack. Two other wanted men are on the run. The suicide bomber has been identified as a man linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter however has denied any involvement in the incident, which was captured on a CCTV camera.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – The day after a state funeral for the victims of the attack against the St Peter and St Paul Church in Cairo, attended by the President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Egypt’s Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek remanded three men and one woman into custody until the ongoing investigation is completed.

Two other men are still wanted on suspicion of being involved in planning the attack on the church, which is located next to the see of Patriarch Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Copts, that killed 25 people and wounded another 59.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO), the suspects will be charged with membership in an unlawful organisation, possession of illegal weapons and explosives, premeditated murder and planning and carrying out acts of violence that affect national security.

The investigative team has in fact announced that body parts recovered at the scene belong to a certain Mahmoud Shafiq Mustapha. According to the PGO, the 22-year-old blew himself up a few seconds after entering the church by detonating an explosive belt.

In 2014, the suicide bomber was involved in providing armed protection at Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations in Fayum, a town in Upper Egypt. Released at the end of that year, he was wanted in two other trials for terrorist activity, especially after he spent time in Qatar where he became more closely involved with radical groups.

On basis of this, the Egyptian Interior Ministry has accused the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders fled to Qatar after the ouster of President Morsi, of planning and financing attacks against churches. For their part, the Brotherhood issued an official statement denying any involvement in Sunday’s attack.

A CCTV camera at the Patriarchate shows the suicide bomber rapidly making his way into the church. It also shows him with an abnormally wide waist, a sign he had had an explosive belt.

After going inside, he moved to the women’s section of the building, followed by a Patriarchate security guard who was suspicious about his bulky waist. Ten seconds later, the explosion took place causing smoke to billow out of the church.

The investigation team was able to identify the body of the security officer among the victims; it also found what was left of the suicide bomber (head and feet), which helped them identify him.

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