Islamic extremists slit the throat of an Egyptian Christian teen in an attempt to boy further intimidate believers ahead of Easter, say his family.
Four days after the Palm Sunday bombing of Egyptian churches, Allam Bashay Gabriel found his 16-year-old son, Gamal, with his throat slit and lying in a pool of blood, in Qai village, Upper Egypt, according to World Watch Monitor.
"The way he was killed is the way of Daesh [IS], as they are the only ones who slaughter people like that," Mr. Gabriel told the outlet. "They slaughtered my son because of his faith in Jesus Christ. It's a war on Christians, and all honest people should stand up to those who are waging this war."
Mr. Gabriel's cousin, Samy, added: "There are many Islamic militants in Qai who were arrested by police after the deposing of the Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi. However, since then they have been released. Why did the government do that? Did they release them so they could then come back and slaughter us? They targeted Gamal and killed him because he is a Christian and it was a message from them before Easter, to intimidate us."
According to WWM, the teen was killed on Holy Thursday and buried on Good Friday - the day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The teen had reportedly had gone to a nearby village to meet with a tutor. When did not return home, his father called him several times - but his cell phone was off.
They decided to search for the boy: "In Qai, we saw two masked men riding a motorcycle and we asked them if they had seen Gamal," Mr. Gabriel said. "When we described him, the men told us to look for him near the Agricultural Society building, and then they sped off and disappeared. At the time we didn't think more of it as our focus was on finding Gamal. Also, since the men were masked and it was dark already, we could not identify them."
When they arrived at the Agricultural Society, they soon found Gamal, lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
Gamal was "loved by all his friends and teachers at school", his father said. "He was a very peaceful and polite person."
He added that he couldn't come up with a "reason why anyone would want to kill my son, as we are simple family and don't have any enemies. We have not been in trouble with anyone and there is no vendetta between us and other families. There also were no valuables that would have attracted criminals".
Shortly before the murder of the Coptic Christian teen, 49 people were killed in twin attacks on churches in Egypt. In addition to worshippers, three policeman were killed as they tried to prevent the suicide bomber from entering St Marks Cathedral in Alexandria.
News of the bombings came as Francis was marking Palm Sunday in St Peter's Square.
The pontiff asked God "to convert the hearts of those who spread terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic in weapons".
The murder of the teen and Sunday's bombings are the latest attacks by the extremist group, which recently vowed to step up its attacks against Egypt's Christian minority, who make up just 10% of the country's population.
The group also claimed responsibility for the December bombing of a church adjacent to St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, one of the most symbolic religious sites for Egyptian Copts. That explosion killed 30 worshippers and injured dozens.