Egyptian army breaks Islamist grip on Delga

September 16, 2013 by Open Doors

Since the Aug. 14 wave of anti-Christian violence that swept over Egypt, the Christians of Delga have complained they had been abandoned by government security forces. Many of their churches and businesses burned, and their houses marked with red “X”s, Delga Christians either fled or hunkered down in their homes, while supporters of the former president, Mohamed Morsi, ran their town.

At dawn Monday, the Army arrived.

Egyptian Army takes control of Delga from Islamists

At dawn Monday, Sept. 16, Egyptian security forces moved into Delga in the central Egyptian governorate of Minya. Using tear gas to clear crowds and encountering sporadic gunfire, they quickly secured streets, removed barricades, and arrested dozens of Islamists who had taken over the city.

Egyptian security hold a position in a street in Delga.

The facts

The operation began at 5 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 16 (Associated Press).

The Army and police moved in with armoured personnel carriers and helicopters (Egypt Independent, citing the state-run news agency MENA).

“The troops moved in in the small hours of the day and surrounded the village from all directions while military choppers hovered over the village” (World Bulletin, citing a statement given by Minya security chief Osama Metwalli to Turkey’s official news agency, Anadolou Agency).

Security forces encountered 10 minutes of intense gunfire, then sporadic shooting as house-to-house searches began. An attempted protest was dispersed with tear gas. (AP). There were no reports of injuries due to gunfire, but “dozens” were injured as police and soldiers used tear gas and bird shot to break up demonstrations (Al Jazeera).

The 32 access points to the city were closed, and a daytime curfew imposed (Al Jazeera).

Accounts of the number of Islamists arrested varied:”At least” 45 (World Bulletin, citing an anonymous Egyptian security official)56 (Al Jazeera; Daily News Egypt citing statement by Egypt’s interior ministry)88 (AP, citing “security officials in Minya”)

Those arrested were wanted for attacks on “police forces and institutions, as well as religious and governmental institutions” (Daily News Egypt).

By late afternoon, Minya’s governor told state television that Delga was under government control and that most of the “criminal elements” had been arrested (Mada Masr).

The background

On July 3, Egypt’s military leaders removed President Mohamed Morsi from office, and began to dismantle the leadership of the national government, which had been dominated by members of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Large pro-Morsi protests sprung up.

On Aug. 14, the military and police broke up two especially large protest camps in Cairo, using live ammunition and tear gas. Hundreds of protesters died in the violence, and the military’s use of deadly force was widely condemned in the world’s capitals.

In response to the crackdown, angry pro-Morsi forces lashed out at government outposts around the country, including Delga, where local police were chased off by Islamist forces. For weeks the village was outside the reach of Egypt’s security forces.

Rioters ransacked and burned dozens of churches across Egypt. Destruction was especially heavy in Delga and the Minya region.

Bishop Abram church in #Delga that was looted, burned over the course of 7 days.

Various independent news agencies reported that the Islamist forces controlling Delga had been extorting payments from local Christian families and businesses.


Christian families are “relieved” by the arrival of security forces yet remain concerned, Father Ayoub Youssef of Mar Guirguis Church told the BBC.

The National Council for Human Rights issued a statement that it would form a committee to review the sectarian attacks that followed Aug. 14, especially in Minya.

Anba Marcarius, bishop general of Minya.

Anba Marcarius, bishop general of Minya. Facebook photo.

The Bishop General of Minya, Anba Macarius, was publicly critical of the Army and police for leaving much of Minya, including Delga, unprotected during the worst of the anti-Christian violence after Aug. 14. As of Monday evening, he had not yet made a public statement about the Army’s morning raid.

“First we must protect the Christians and the feelings of those who have suffered loss,” Macarius told The Age one week after the church-burning violence began. “Now we are calling on the state to protect the churches and the army to come onto the streets.”

On Monday morning, five weeks later, the army took over Delga’s streets.

Source:World Watch Monitor

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