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Cairo attack: 9 dead in Coptic Christian church shooting

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Attack took place outside the Mar Mina Coptic Christian church in Helwan, C..

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  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • Attack took place outside the Mar Mina Coptic Christian church in Helwan, Cairo
  • Nine people were killed and more injured before the gunman was shot by police
  • Officials say the attacker was armed with an assault rifle, 150 bullets and a bomb
  • It is the latest in a wave of attacks on Coptic Christian churches in the country

By Julian Robinson for MailOnline

Published: 05:02 EST, 29 December 2017 | Updated: 09:48 EST, 29 December 2017

A gunman has killed at least nine people after opening fire on a church south of Cairo in the latest apparent jihadist attack on the country's Christian minority.

The jihadist, armed with an assault rifle, 150 rounds of ammunition and a bomb, went on the rampage outside Mar Mina church in the capital before being shot himself as he tried to storm the building.

Footage posted on social media appeared to show the bearded gunman wearing a bulky ammunition vest sprawled on a street, barely conscious, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him.

Officials said the assailant was a wanted jihadist implicated in attacks on police.

It comes in the wake of a series of massacres at Coptic Christian churches carried out by ISIS in recent years.

A gunman has killed at least nine people after opening fire on a church south of Cairo in the latest apparent jihadist attack on the country's Christian minority. An attacker was later shot  and a picture emerged of a bearded man wearing a bulky ammunition vest sprawled on a street

A gunman has killed at least nine people after opening fire on a church south of Cairo in the latest apparent jihadist attack on the country's Christian minority. An attacker was later shot and a picture emerged of a bearded man wearing a bulky ammunition vest sprawled on a street

Cellphone footage posted on social media appeared to show a gunman barely conscious on the ground, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed himCellphone footage posted on social media appeared to show a gunman barely conscious on the ground, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him

Cellphone footage posted on social media appeared to show a gunman barely conscious on the ground, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him

A pool of blood could be seen on the ground as a security official inspected the damage at Mar Mina church following an attack in the district of Helwan, southeastern CairoA pool of blood could be seen on the ground as a security official inspected the damage at Mar Mina church following an attack in the district of Helwan, southeastern Cairo

A pool of blood could be seen on the ground as a security official inspected the damage at Mar Mina church following an attack in the district of Helwan, southeastern Cairo

The attack took place in the Helwan district on the capital's southern outskirts this morningThe attack took place in the Helwan district on the capital's southern outskirts this morning

The attack took place in the Helwan district on the capital's southern outskirts this morning

Pictures show pools of blood on the ground and bullet holes in the walls of the church in the aftermath of the gunfight.

There were conflicting reports from Egyptian officials as to whether the gunman had been killed or wounded. It was also reported that there were two assailants and that one had gone on the run before being captured.

The interior ministry said he killed two people when he opened fire on a store before heading to the church where he shot dead seven people including an officer.

Police later cordoned off the crime scene as onlookers crowded around the church, while a forensics team combed the area.

Friday's attack came ahead of Christmas for the Copts, who celebrate it on January 7.

Five people were wounded in the attack including two women who are in a serious condition in hospital.

There have been numerous attacks on Coptic churches in recent years.

ISIS in Egypt has killed dozens of Christians in church bombings and shootings over the past year, and has threatened further attacks against the minority.

Samir Gerges, a witness, said people inside the church closed the gates when the shootout began but bullets from the gunfire still entered the building.

He said he was walking in a nearby street when the shooting happened. He saw people running and some of them went to hide from the gunfire inside a nearby restaurant.

Although the gunfight took place outside, blood stains could be seen on carpets inside the church after the attackAlthough the gunfight took place outside, blood stains could be seen on carpets inside the church after the attack

Although the gunfight took place outside, blood stains could be seen on carpets inside the church after the attack

Crime scene: Detectives cordoned off the area as they scoured the area in the wake of the attackCrime scene: Detectives cordoned off the area as they scoured the area in the wake of the attack

Crime scene: Detectives cordoned off the area as they scoured the area in the wake of the attack

Hundreds descended on the scene after the gun attack. Nine people were killed in the atrocityHundreds descended on the scene after the gun attack. Nine people were killed in the atrocity

Hundreds descended on the scene after the gun attack. Nine people were killed in the atrocity

Bullet holes could be seen in the walls of the church this morning after a gunmen opened fireBullet holes could be seen in the walls of the church this morning after a gunmen opened fire

Bullet holes could be seen in the walls of the church this morning after a gunmen opened fire

Raouth Atta, 40, was attending prayers inside the church when the shooting took place.

'Once the gunfire was heard, the gates were closed immediately,' she said.

'People were terrified and wanted to check on their families in other buildings of the church. We stayed inside for 30 minutes before we were able to get out.'

Ms Atta said that once she was let outside the building she saw blood scattered everywhere.

Egypt's Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of the country's 93 million people, and are the largest religious minority in the region.

ISIS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April.

The Interior Ministry said two policemen had been killed in the attack on the Mar Mina churchThe Interior Ministry said two policemen had been killed in the attack on the Mar Mina church

The Interior Ministry said two policemen had been killed in the attack on the Mar Mina church

ISIS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April. Pictures show the exterior of the churchISIS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April. Pictures show the exterior of the church

ISIS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April. Pictures show the exterior of the church

THE LATEST ATTACK ON EGYPT'S COPTIC CHRISTIAN MINORITY

Egypt's Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of its population, have come under attack by Islamist radicals several times over the past years.

With a new attack on Friday, when a gunman opened fire on a church south of Cairo and killed nine people, here is a timeline of the major incidents.

– 2017 –

May 26: Masked gunmen order Christians travelling to a desert monastery to get off their buses and recant their faith.

The group – a mix of visitors and workers heading to the Saint Samuel monastery south of Cairo – refuse and are shot one by one. About 30 people are killed.

ISIS claims responsibility.

– April 9: Two churches are bombed on Palm Sunday, killing 45 people. The attacks are in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, where Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been leading a service. He is unharmed.

ISIS claims responsiblity and says both were suicide attacks.

– 2016 –

– December 11: A suicide attack during a Sunday service at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church in central Cairo, adjacent to the headquarters of Pope Tawadros, kills 29. It is claimed by ISIS.

– 2013 –

– October 20: Four members of the same family, including two youngs girls, are gunned down by attackers on motorbikes as they leave Cairo's Church of the Virgin following a wedding.

It is the first attack targeting the capital's Coptic community since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

This follows attacks on dozens of churches, homes and businesses belonging to Copts after the bloody breaking up of two pro-Morsi gatherings in Cairo in August and with perceptions that Copts had backed his overthrow.

– 2011 –

– January 1: A blast kills 23 and wounds 79, mostly Christians, as they leave a Coptic church after New Year's mass in Alexandria.

A month later, ISIS gunmen shot dead about 30 Christians south of Cairo as they travelled to a monastery.

The jihadists are believed to have also carried out a massacre of Muslim worshippers in Sinai last month, killing more than 300 in an attack on a mosque associated with the mystical Sufi strand of Islam which IS views as heretical.

Egypt imposed a state of emergency following the church attacks and shootings, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi demanded the army quell the jihadists with 'brutal force' following the mosque massacre.

The group has been waging a deadly insurgency based in the Sinai peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

Investigation: Egyptian policemen inspect the church attack site in Cairo, Egypt this morningInvestigation: Egyptian policemen inspect the church attack site in Cairo, Egypt this morning

Investigation: Egyptian policemen inspect the church attack site in Cairo, Egypt this morning

The two attackers opened fire at the entrance to the church of Mar Mina in Helwan district, which was being guarded by police in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas celebrations next week, security sources saidThe two attackers opened fire at the entrance to the church of Mar Mina in Helwan district, which was being guarded by police in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas celebrations next week, security sources said

The two attackers opened fire at the entrance to the church of Mar Mina in Helwan district, which was being guarded by police in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas celebrations next week, security sources said

Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral last December that killed 28 peopleIslamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral last December that killed 28 people

Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral last December that killed 28 people

They have increasingly targeted civilians as attacks on the security forces have become more difficult.

The army has poured in thousands of troops backed with armour and jets in a bid to crush the Sinai-based jihadists, but attacks have continued.

The attack on the church came a day after six Egyptian soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in the Sinai.

Last week, ISIS claimed responsibility for firing an antitank missile at a helicopter in a North Sinai airport as the defence and interior ministers were visiting.

The attack killed an aide to the defence minister and a helicopter pilot, but both ministers returned to Cairo unscathed.

Original Article

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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