Coptic priest in Cairo stabbed to death while collecting humanitarian aid

A Coptic Orthodox priest in Cairo, Egypt, was chased and stabbed to death while collecting humanitarian aid for his parish on Oct. 12, and his brutal death drew condemnation from Christian leaders in the United Kingdom.

(REUTERS / David Moir)A policeman holds a lock knife at a knife amnesty launch at St Leonard's police station in Edinburgh, Scotland May 23, 2006.

On Thursday, Father Samaan Shehata was collecting aid for his parish in Beni Suef when an assailant chased him and repeatedly stabbed him. The attacker fled but was apprehended by police later on, the BBC detailed.

The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement on Thursday confirming the death of Father Shehata. Bishop Astafanous of Fashn, Biba and Samasta named the attacker as Ahmed-El Sonbaty and described him as an "extremist," Ahram Online reported. The killer had a criminal record. 

"In an unfortunate incident, archpriest Samaan Shehata of St. Julius's church in Ezbet Girgis in El-Fashn, along with priest Beymen Moftah, of El-Malak church in Matay, were assaulted while in El-Salam City," the Coptic Orthodox Church said in its statement. "Priest Samaan was transferred to hospital after he had passed away."

The stabbing, which was caught on security footage, drew condemnation from Christian leaders in the U.K. Bishop Anba Angaelos of the Coptic Church expressed concern over the Egyptian authorities' response to the incident, saying an hour passed before an ambulance arrived at the scene and that the assailant was declared as mentally ill even though there was no professional diagnosis and no forensic evidence was gathered.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, posted a message on Twitter expressing sadness over Father Shehata's murder. He also said a prayer for the Coptic Church and the people mourning for the fallen priest.

Although the motive for the brutal murder of Father Shehata still has not been established, the publication noted that the Coptic community in Egypt has been targeted in violent attacks in the last few months.