A group of armed masked men in Sinai kidnapped at gunpoint a Christian engineer who works at a cement factory in the Peninsula on Monday, reported state-run Al-Ahram.
According to North Sinai Christian activist Abanoub Riyad, “the identity of the kidnappers is still unknown.” Riyad added that reasons for the abduction are still unclear. The Ministry of Interior’s officials in Sinai were not available for comment.
The incident is the third of its kind to happen to Christians in Sinai over the past month. The first took place on 14 June, when surgeon Wadei Ramses was shot and wounded before being abducted in the city of Al-Arish.
The second incident, which took place on 16 June, targeted Christian businessman Gamal Shenouda, who was also kidnapped in Al-Arish. “Shenouda was found by security forces after his family paid a ransom of EGP 300,000 to the kidnappers,” said Fady Youssef, founder of Egypt’s Copts Coalition.
“The situation in Sinai is alarming. Christians and their churches are being targeted by both criminals and extremists amid the Ministry of Interior’s inefficiency and inability to stop such attacks,” he continued.
“Kidnappings of this kind have been taking place since the beginning of the revolution,” said Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
“The lack of security and the helplessness of Christians are main reasons for the abundance of such events. Many of the kidnappers know it is easy to kidnap Christians, and to receive a large ransom from the families of the victims,” Ibrahim said.
“Families usually resort to paying the ransom as they do not find the security measures done by the police efficient enough,” he continued.
In Upper Egypt, while Christians make up a high percentage of population, “more than 200 cases of kidnappings took place amid a state of lawlessness which eventually leaves Christians vulnerable,” Ibrahim said, noting that on Monday, “a Christian store owner was kidnapped in Naga Hammadi by unmasked assailants with firearms.”
Christian property and churches have come under increasing attacks since July 2013. The EIPR issued a report last month documenting the damages.
The report said that “43 churches came under attack. Of these, 27 of were looted and burned almost or entirely to the ground, while 13 churches were partially looted and their doors and windows vandalised or destroyed; shots were fired at three churches.”
The report added that the attacks had also struck seven schools and six Christian associations, including two medical centres and an orphanage.