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Christians flee town after terrorist threats

CAIRO — Christians have fled their homes in a northern Sinai town after receiving threats from suspected Islamic terrorists, a Coptic Christian priest said Thursday.

Father Youssef Sobhi said Islamic militants have verbally threatened seven Christian families in the town of Rafah on the Egypt-Gaza-Israel border. One shop owner came under fire by masked gunmen, he said in a phone interview. The families sought refuge in the town of El-Arish.

He said local authorities have not adequately protected Christians on the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamic radicals have gained influence after the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last year.

Mr. Sobhi also said militants fired at the Holy Family Church in the northern Sinai. The church is built on the site where Christians believe Joseph, Mary and Jesus first stopped to rest after crossing into Egypt.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports