An Egyptian Christian boy found murdered on Maundy Thursday was killed by Islamic extremists hoping to intimidate Christians, say his family.
According to World Watch Monitor, Allam Bashay Gabriel found his 16-year-old son, Gamal, with his throat slit and lying in a pool of blood, in Qai village, Upper Egypt.
The murder took place four days after two churches were bombed and on the same day that three Christian homes were burned.
Gabriel told World Watch Monitor he suspected his son was killed by members of the Islamic State group.
'The way he was killed is the way of Daesh [IS], as they are the only ones who slaughter people like that,' he said. 'They slaughtered my son because of his faith in Jesus Christ. It's a war on Christians, and all honest people should stand up to those who are waging this war.'
Gabriel's cousin Samy said: 'They targeted Gamal and killed him because he is a Christian and it was a message from them before Easter, to intimidate us.'
Gabriel told World Watch Monitor his son had gone to a nearby village to meet with a tutor, but did not return home.
'I tried to call him many times but his mobile phone was off,' he said. 'I was very worried about him. I called my relatives to check with them if any one of them had seen him, as well as his friends, but none of them knew where he was.'
They decided to search for the boy. He said: 'In Qai, we saw two masked men riding a motorcycle and we asked them if they had seen Gamal. When we described him, the men told us to look for him near the Agricultural Society building, and then they sped off and disappeared. At the time we didn't think more of it as our focus was on finding Gamal. Also, since the men were masked and it was dark already, we could not identify them.'
When they arrived at the Agricultural Society, they found Gamal lying on the ground in a pool of blood. He had blood gushing from the top of his head and his throat had been cut.
A pupil in the nearby village of Al-Nuweira, Gamal was 'loved by all his friends and teachers at school', his father said. 'He was a very peaceful and polite person.'
He was buried the following day, Good Friday, at the family's cemetery, amid tight security, as many Coptic Christians attended his funeral.