A Coptic Orthodox priest was shot dead yesterday morning (30 June) in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula by Islamist militants.

Fr. Raphael Moussa, 46, was shot four times in the head from a passing taxi as he stood next to his car in Arish, the capital of northern Sinai. The priest was returning home from leading mass at the Mar Girguis (St. George) Church.

The Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency announced that the Wilyat Sinai branch of IS claimed responsibility for the murder, accusing the clergyman of “waging war against Islam.”

Moussa is the second priest in Arish to have been assassinated by the jihadists. Fr. Mina Aboud Sharubim was shot dead in July 2013, just three days after Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian military.

Wilyat Sinai has waged an insurgency across northern Sinai for the past three years, killing hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen.

“The whole situation in Arish and North Sinai is under threat,” church spokesman Boulos Halim said. “Many people [Christians] have left.”

Egypt’s Christians, more than 10 per cent of the population, have faced serious violence in the past two months, including angry mob attacks in Minya and Alexandria, which destroyed homes and displaced whole families.

Sources: Watani, AFP