Yesterday the police of Deshna in Qena, Upper Egypt, succeeded in freeing the Copt Agaibi Atta Atta and his son Mina 48 hours after they had been kidnapped at Geziret al-Hamoudi in the village of Fao Bahari in Deshna. The police stepped in after mediation efforts by the village elders failed.
A Coptic eyewitness told Watani that the police attacked the kidnappers’ house, but the kidnappers fled and left Agaibi and his son tied up in one of the rooms.
It is one of the few incidents where the police actively steps in to rescue kidnapped Copts. It has become common that Copts in Upper Egypt, who are normally wealthy professionals, traders, or landowners; are kidnapped for ransom or forced to pay tribute money to Islamist groups or outlaws.
Last week, the Copts of the village of Shamiya in Assiut filed a formal complaint to the Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim against the local Muslim gang of Ahmed Halaqa which systematically terrorises them and forces them to pay tribute. Earlier this year, in February, large police forces had marched on the village and caught several of Halaqa’s associates, but the lead gangster himself fled. When the police force in the village was restored to its normal size, Halaqa went back to his criminal activity with a vengeance.
Essam Lutfi, a villager in his early forties whose two brothers were killed by Halaqa and his gang when they refused to pay up, told Watani that the villagers of Shamiya intended to hold a demonstration in Cairo to draw attention to their plight.
5 September 2014