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Egypt's Leaders Condemn Deadly Attack on Copts

Egyptian security forces stand guard at a Coptic Christian church after gunmen opened fire, killing four people and wounding several others, in the Waraa neighborhood of Cairo late Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013.
Egyptian religious and political leaders have condemned a shooting attack outside a Coptic church in Giza Sunday night, which left four people dead and wounded 17 according to state TV.

Dressed in black, the mother of two young girls killed in the shooting expressed her grief, as relatives gathered around her.

She said she had been preparing food for her children at home before coming to church on the bus when the shooting began and her two girls got caught in the crossfire. She says she ran to see what happened and saw both of her girls dead on the ground, along with her sister.

A young man who witnessed the shooting says two men on a motorcycle opened fire at the crowd of wedding guests with an automatic rifle.

Father Sawiris, a Coptic priest at the Church of the Virgin where the shooting took place, told journalists there had been no police protection at the church for weeks. But he says it's difficult to protect a crowded wedding and he doubts police could have stopped the attack.

He said the wedding had a rolling start, due to traffic, and that he heard heavy shooting outside the church at about 8 p.m. He says even if police had been present, they probably couldn't have done anything, because people were milling about in all directions.

Al Jazeera reported that a Muslim Brotherhood umbrella group calling itself the Alliance Against the Coup “condemned all attacks on public and private institutions” and went on to accuse the Interior Ministry of “not providing security for all Egyptian citizens.”

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi denounced the church attack in a statement read on state television, calling it a “cowardly and despicable act.” He said violence would “not succeed in creating divisions between Christians and Muslims.”

Dozens of churches and businesses owned by Egypt's Christians have been looted and torched since the military ousted president Mohamed Morsi in July. Islamist supporters of Morsi have accused Christians of backing his overthrow, but deny using violence against them.