Hundreds Of Christians Flee Spate Of ISIS Killings In Egypt

Hundreds of Coptic Christians are arriving in Ismailia, northern Egypt, having fled their homes after ISIS killings increased.

Following a video call for a surge in attacks on Christians, militants killed several Copts with one beheaded and another set on fire. As many as 29 have been killed in recent weeks.

Christian families who left from Al-Arish in the North Sinai Governorate after the escalation of a campaign targeting Christians by Islamic State militants last week, arrive at the Evangelical Church in Ismailia, Egypt, February 24, 2017.Reuters

One priest in the terror-struck town of Al-Arish, northern Sinai, said 550 had fled. Other estimates put the total at 250.

Evangelical churches in Ismailia are joining Coptic churches to provide shelter for the refugees.

Evangelical pastor Ezzat Afifi said: 'They are in a state of fear and shock. Each and every one of them received direct death threats. I hope that this is only temporary. I hope they return to their homes, their schools and friends.'

He added: 'Many families lost their loved ones, cousins, relatives and friends by killing.'

One refugee, Morcos Bahgat, whose father was killed in a shooting, said: 'Two masked men attacked my father in his clinic at 2pm. They took him out to the street and made him kneel.

'They threatened to kill him if he doesn't confess to Islam. When he refused to do that, they shot him immediately. The police didn't come and no one did anything, everyone stood there watching.'

Another refugee, whose sister lost her husband and son in the attacks, said: 'We received death threats.'

She added according to SAT-7, a Christian charity: 'Our houses are built on hills and we are not able to install any security cameras to know who is on the other side of the door. Whoever opens the door of their home is killed.'

A statement from the Egytian Council of Churches described a 'great sadness and worry' over the killings.

The statement read: 'This matter is a violation of the Egyptian constitution and the basic rights of citizenship and an assault on the country's status tarnishing its reputation and destroying its achievements.

'We support with all our power the families of the victims and those who were forcibly displaced and their belongings stolen. We trust that the government is capable of handling this crisis and we look forward to the return of those displaced to their homes and work as soon as possible and towards the management of their needs to end their suffering as soon as possible.

'We appreciate all the sacrifices made by our armed and police forces to resist terrorism and achieving security and peace. We also appreciate the role of the different churches to help those affected. We pray for the peace of our country and the lifting of injustice and the hardship of those in suffering.'