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Coptic Christian Bishop Found Murdered in Egyptian Monastery

UPDATE: A monk at the monastery says the murder is not believed to be an act of terrorism, but as of yet no perpetrator has been identified.

Original Post: A murder investigation is underway in Egypt today after a Christian Coptic bishop was found murdered inside the precinct of the monastery where he was abbot.

Bishop Epiphanius served at the St. Markarious Monastery in Wadi al-Natrun (Scetis) in between Cairo and Alexandria.

Watani International reports:

Monks of St Macarius’s say he had left his cell at dawn to attend Matins Praise that precedes Sunday Mass, but was obviously intercepted by someone who came from behind him and hit him on the head with a sharp, heavy object.

The Abbot was later found by the monks lying in a pool of blood, dead. They directly called Pope Tawadros who hastened to delegate a number of bishops to check on the matter, as well as on the monks and monastery. The homeland security authorities and the prosecution were directly notified; they headed to the monastery, together with a criminal investigation team and forensic medicine investigators. The monastery is now closed until investigations are completed.

It is not yet clear whether the culprit came from inside or outside the monastery.

I visited two of the monasteries in Wadi al-Natrun this past April -- my third trip to the monasteries in the area.

Understandably, the Coptic community around the world is reacting with shock:

Since the beginning of Obama's so-called "Arab Spring" in 2011, the Coptic Church in Egypt -- the largest Christian community in the Middle East with 10-12 million members -- has suffered a series of attacks that have killed dozens.

In April 2014, after meeting with Pope Tawadaros in Cairo, I traveled into Upper Egypt to survey the damage to dozens of churches and monasteries that had been destroyed by mobs encouraged by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

And last year I was given special permission to visit a church still under repair in Cairo that had been targeted by a suicide bomber in December 2016. Twenty-nine people died, all but one women and girls.

In recent years I've reported on the string of attacks, suicide bombings, and murders targeting the Coptic community:

Dec 29, 2017: Terrorists Attack Coptic Church South of Cairo, at Least 10 Reported Dead

Oct. 12, 2017: Coptic Priest Murdered in Cairo in Latest Anti-Christian Sectarian Attack in Egypt

July 15, 2017: Slashing at Coptic Church in Alexandria As Attacks on Christians in Egypt Escalate

June 24, 2017: Egyptian Authorities Bust Terror Cell Targeting Alexandria Church For Suicide Bombing on Eid al-Fitr

May 29, 2017: 'Moderate' Muslim Brotherhood Incites More Terror Attacks Targeting Egypt's Coptic Christians

May 26, 2017: On Eve of Ramadan, Islamic Gunmen Kill 31 Coptic Christians on Pilgrimage in Egypt

May 9, 2017: My Visit to the Site of the December Coptic Church Suicide Bombing in Cairo

May 8, 2017: Islamic State Threatens More Attacks on Egypt's Christians, Obama CVE Adviser Says They Have It Coming 

April 14, 2017: New Attacks on Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt -- But It's Not the Islamic State

April 12, 2017: Egyptian Authorities Stop Planned Islamic State Terror Attack on Coptic Monastery in Upper Egypt

April 9, 2017: Two Blasts Strike Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday in Egypt, 49 Reported Dead

Feb. 25, 2017: Hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians Flee Sinai After Series of Islamic State Murders

Feb. 19, 2017: New Islamic State Video Threatens Egyptian Christians, Shows December Church Suicide Bomber

Feb. 13, 2017: More Coptic Christians Murdered the Past Two Months Than Admitted As Refugees During Obama's Presidency

Jan. 3, 2017: Islamist Murders Christian for Selling Alcohol in Alexandria

Dec. 11, 2016: Cairo Cathedral Bombing Killing 25 During Church Service Fits a Familiar Pattern

Aug 14, 2016: Three Years After - Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood's August 2013 'Reign of Terror' Targeting Egypt's Christians

June 25, 2016: Disgraced Homeland Security Adviser Mohamed Elibiary Scapegoats Egypt's Christians -- Again

March 29, 2015: Muslim Brotherhood Mob Attacks Family of Coptic Christian Martyr Beheaded by ISIS in Libya