Attack on Libyan Coptic Church Building Kills Two

Deadly Attack On Coptic Church Building In Libya Kills 2

TRIPOLI, Dec 30 (Reuters) - An explosion on Sunday at a building belonging to a Coptic church in western Libya killed two Egyptian men and wounded two others, a military spokesman said.

Attackers threw a homemade bomb at an administration building belonging to the Egyptian Coptic church in Dafniya, close to the western city of Misrata, said Ibrahim Rajab of Misrata military council.

The Egyptian consul in the city, Tareq Dahrouj, said he had visited the church and the building where the two church workers were killed early on Sunday.

"The explosion seems like it was very strong and I have started making my investigations with Misrata officials," he said.

Libya has small communities of Egyptians, Greeks and Italians who account for most of the Christian minority in the predominantly Islamic country.

Libya's new rulers have struggled to impose their authority on a myriad of armed groups, who helped oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year but have yet to lay down their arms. Sunday's attack was the first major assault on a Christian target since the revolution.

In Egypt, following the removal in 2011 of President Hosni Mubarak, Coptic Christians have become increasingly worried after an upsurge in attacks on churches, which they blame on hardline Islamists.

Repeated attacks on foreign diplomatic and aid centres in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi have made it very dangerous for non-locals to work and live there.

The worst attack on a foreign target was on Sept. 11, when the U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi. (Reporting By Ali Shuaib; Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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