Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1425, (10 - 16 January 2019)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1425, (10 - 16 January 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Seeing off another hero

A police officer was killed while defusing an improvised explosive device near a church in Cairo’s Nasr City


A police officer was killed and two others were wounded late on Saturday while trying to dismantle an improvised explosive device (IED) near a Coptic church in Nasr City in Cairo, reports Ahmed Morsy.

The dramatic incident happened a day before the eve of Coptic Christmas. It started when an imam of Al-Haq Mosque, located next to Al-Adhraa wa Abu Seifin (the Virgin and Mercure of Caesarea) Church, reported to police a bag on the roof of a building. Security forces which arrived at the scene discovered three explosive devices, one of which exploded while Major Mustafa Ebeid, from the Bomb Squad in Cairo Security Directorate, was defusing it, leaving two other officers injured. The two other bombs were defused.

Ebeid, in his early 30s, had two children: seven-year-old Lara and three-year-old Seif. He is the sixth officer from the Explosives Department of the Interior Ministry to be killed since 2013.

Since 2013 Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State’s branch in North Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed. Though Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis is at the forefront of militant groups launching attacks against security targets, other smaller militant groups, including Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra, have recently emerged, claiming responsibility for attacks.

In addition to police and army forces, Coptic Christians, who account for around 10 per cent of Egypt’s population, have also been targeted in a string of attacks by terrorist groups in recent years.

Ebeid’s father told Al-Ahram Weekly that he was always worried about his son’s job in the Explosives Department. “I asked him more than once to leave the department and join any other but he always refused,” his father said, adding that his son loved his job and was not willing to leave it.

Ebeid was given a military funeral at his hometown in Qalioubiya on Sunday. Thousands of relatives, friends and the public attended the funeral and prayers held the following day in the Police Mosque in Cairo.

“He was always smiling... no one ever hated him. Now he is in the hands of Allah as a martyr,” one of his friends told the Weekly.

The Coptic Orthodox Church and Pope Tawadros II mourned the “brave” police officer. In a statement, they offered condolences to Ebeid’s family, thanking the police for their efforts and wishing a speedy recovery to the injured. Al-Azhar Institute also released a statement denouncing the explosion, and confirming full solidarity with state institutions in confronting terrorism. 

In the statement, Al-Azhar said that targeting places of worship and killing innocent people is a criminal act that violates the teachings of Islam and that of all religions. 

Grand Mufti Shawki Allam urged all Egyptians to close ranks in the face of terrorist groups which seek to destabilise the country. Allam stressed that Islam allows Christians to practise their religion and ensures the safety of their churches. Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa hailed the bravery of the police officer who was killed while trying to foil the terrorist attempt. Head of the Evangelical Church Andrea Zaki on Saturday deplored the blast, and praised the imam of the mosque who saved Copts in Nasr City from a possible disaster.

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