Monday, January 05, 2004 11:54 PM
Subject: A COPT IS KIILED, AS EGYPTIAN ARMY ATTACKS CLERGY OF PATMOS CENTER
; 2 OTHERS INJURED
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Washington DC (1/5/04) ? The Patmos Center came under attack by the Egyptian
army once again on January 5, 2004. During the assault on the Center, 600 soldiers
and two bulldozers attacked the building, partially destroying the fence and
setting fire to structures on the premises. The assault culminated when at the
prompting of army officials, a bus driver attempted to run over the church Bishop,
killing one staff member and hospitalizing two others.
The attack came at the heels of a meeting with a high ranking army official
last week. Patmos Center staff had been told that previous issues concerning
the Center were now resolved and there would be no further army assaults. Days
later, several hundred armed soldiers exclaiming ? God is great,? led a raid
on the Center. Soldiers armed with weapons blockaded the road surrounding the
Center, halting traffic as they began destruction of the encompassing fence.
During the army-led destruction, head of the Center Bishop Botros, attempting
to mediate, was singled out for attack. Acting upon instructions from
army officials, a bus driver swerved off the road towards the Bishop. Staff
members rushing to his aid, were hit by the oncoming vehicle. One staff member
was immediately killed and two others hospitalized. Army officials claimed
that the bus driver had simply lost control of his vehicle and denied involvement.
Several other staff members and clergy were injured as they attempted
to protect the Center.
The Patmos Center has been attacked repeatedly by the Egyptian army in 1996,
1997, 2001, 2002, and in 2003. In previous attacks, sections of the Center's
fence were destroyed and several staff members injured.
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The U.S. Copts Association, founded in 1996 and based in Washington
D.C., advocates for democracy, religious freedom, and human rights in Egypt.
The Association represents over 700,0