- - Tuesday, November 2, 2010

EGYPT

Security increased after al Qaeda threat

LUXOR | Egyptian police Tuesday beefed up security measures for a Coptic festival being held in the ancient city of Luxor in response to a recent al Qaeda threat to Christians in the Middle East, a security official said.

The measures came after the deadly attack on a Catholic church in Baghdad that killed 58 people and wounded nearly 80 when militants stormed the church during Sunday Mass.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has taken responsibility for the attack in an Internet message and tied it to claims that the Coptic Church in Egypt is holding women who have converted to Islam.

The group gave the church 48 hours to release the women and threatened that, if they were not freed, al Qaeda would attack Christians across the Middle East.

The message specifically mentioned two Egyptian women who are wives of Coptic priests. Some think they converted to Islam to leave their husbands because divorce is banned by Egypt’s Coptic Church.

As many as 2 million Coptic Christians are expected to attend the two-week festivities in Luxor, which began Tuesday.

TURKEY

Authorities say bomber was PKK member

ISTANBUL | Turkey on Tuesday identified the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Istanbul, wounding 32 people, as a member of the country’s main autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebel group.

Sunday’s attack targeted riot police stationed at Istanbul’s busiest square; 15 of the wounded were police officers.

The Istanbul’s governor office said the 24-year-old suicide bomber had joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in 2004. The governor’s statement did not directly blame the PKK for the attack, but said police were still investigating the bombing and the bomber’s contacts.

The PKK on Monday denied any role in the attack and said it was extending a unilateral cease fire, declared in August, until the summer of 2011, with the intention of opening talks with Turkish leaders.

ISRAEL

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