Egyptian army fires at Coptic monastery (video)
For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army’s use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday’s army attack.
Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.
“When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen,” said Monk Ava Bishoy. “Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest.”
The injured were rushed to the nearby Sadat Hospital, the ones in serious condition were transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo.
Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy said the army fired live ammunition and RPGs continuously for 30 minutes, which hit part of the ancient fence inside the monastery. “The army was shocked to see the monks standing there praying ‘Lord have mercy’ without running away. This is what really upset them,” he said. “As the soldiers were demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Victory, Victory'”.
He also added that the army prevented the monastery’s car from taking the injured to hospital.
The army also attacked the Monastery of St. Makarios of Alexandria in Wady el-Rayan, Fayoum, 100 km from Cairo. It stormed the monastery and fired live ammunition on the monks. Father Mina said that one monk was shot and more than ten have injuries caused by being beaten with batons. The army demolished the newly erected fence and one room from the actual monastery and confiscated building materials. The monastery had also built a fence to protect itself after January 25 and after being attacked by armed Arabs and robbers leading to the injury of six monks, including one monk in critical condition who is still hospitalized.
The army had given on February 21 an ultimatum to this monastery that if the fence was not demolished within 48 hours by the monks, the army would remove it themselves.
From Al Masry al-Youm:
Around 2000 Copts gathered on Wednesday in Tahrir Square to protest reports that an Egyptian army unit had attacked the Monastery of Saint Pishoy in the Nitrian Desert earlier on Wednesday.
Protesters said that a military unit using armored vehicles had demolished newly-built fences surrounding the old Coptic monastery. They claimed that the soldiers fired live bullets at monks. They added that two had been injured and transferred to the Anglo-American hospital in Cairo.
Al-Masry Al-Youm failed to independently verify the reports about the injured monks.
“The army told the monasteries to protect themselves, so the monks tried to build a fence after the release of prisoners from Wadi Natrun. Then the army starting attacking the monastery,” said Yasser Farag, 37, a Coptic engineer who went to the monastery after the attack.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed the country since the 11 February ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, said on its official page on Facebook that soldiers had removed “some walls that had been illegally built on the road and on land owned by the state.”
The SCAF denied claims that the armed forces had been involved in attacks on the monastery or that it had any intention to demolish the building due to its “belief in freedom and the sanctity of places of worship.”
Here are two videos of the events at one monastery:
(h/t Missing Peace)