By Tom Little.
Tripoli, 31 December:
The head of the Coptic Church in Libya, Father Timothaus Bishara Adly, today condemned the bomb attack in the port city of Misrata that left two Egyptian Christians dead and several more wounded.
Father Timothaous Bishara Adly told the Libya Herald today that he visited Misrata yesterday to visit the church in Dafniya that was targeted by a bombing late on Saturday night, saying the families of those killed were facing a “very difficult situation.”
He said that the two men killed in the blast had been attending a service late on Saturday night in a building attached to the church when the bomb went off.
Members of the congregation present at the time of the attack told Adly that there was a “huge explosion”, which they thought had been caused by a bomb placed next to the building some time before. Adly, however, was keen to stress that the investigation into the attack was in its early stages, and that it was impossible to give more precise details at this time.
Adly said that the two victims of the attack were both male, and had been living and working in Libya with their families for some time.
Both men were married he said, and one, 42, had three young daughters who are also living in Libya. The second, he added, was 25 years old, and his wife was six months pregnant.
Adly said that the church, Saint George’s, was a focal point for the Coptic community in Misrata, and catered exclusively to Egyptian Christians, estimating that there are around 20,000 members of the church in Libya.
The attack seemed to have been totally unexpected, as Adly told the Libya Herald that there had ben “no threats at all against the churches here in Libya,” pointing out that “on the other hand, we had very good relations with Muslims here in Libya”.
Saturday marks the first attack specifically targeting a church in Libya since the revolution last year, and at the time of publication, it is not clear who was responsible for the bombing.
Officials from the Interior Minstry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation had been in contact with the head of the church in Misrata, Father Marcus Zaghloul, Adly said, to condemn the “terrorist incident”, and had reassured him that they would launch an investigation into the attack immediately.
Adly said that the Egyptian ambassador in Tripoli, Hisham Abdul Wahab, had called for more security outside Libya’s Coptic churches, and the Egyptian foreign minister had also condemned the attack.