Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt continue to be targeted for kidnapping and extortion on a weekly basis. The most recent case occurred on Tuesday morning, when masked men abducted 52-year-old Nady Farag Massad at gunpoint in the governorate of Minya.
According to local sources, Massad was purchasing bread for his family at a local bakery when the gunmen forced him into their vehicle and fled the scene. Two days later, Massad's kidnappers have yet to contact anyone demanding a ransom.
Massad's kidnapping is only the latest in a string of abductions targeting Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt over the past year. According to Ezzat Ibrahim, the director of the World Center for Human Rights in Minya and Asyut, there have been dozens of cases.
"In the year 2013, 69 Christians were abducted in Minya governorate," Ibrahim told International Christian Concern (ICC). "Four of them were killed because their families were unable to pay the kidnappers that demanded ransoms, four of them were returned by the police, and 61 Christians were returned after their families paid a ransom ranging from 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($7,000) to several million Egyptian pounds."
Families unable to meet demands of the kidnappers must rely on police to find their missing loved ones. In a recent interview, Aziz Narrows, the father of Abanoub Narrows, a 14-year-old kidnapped last November, relayed his experience to ICC.
"My son was taking a private lesson from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. with his schoolmates in the home of their teacher, which is very close to our home," he said. "It was 9:30 p.m. and Abanoub hadn't returned, so I went out to look for him."
After searching unsuccessfully for his son for several hours, Aziz informed the police that his son was missing.
"They asked me to wait until the morning because maybe Abanoub went to one of his relatives, so I returned to my home," he said.
A little after 9:30 the next morning, Abanoub's father received the first of what would be nearly 40 text messages from his son's kidnappers.
"I went immediately to the police station in Dairut and told them about the kidnappers' message, and also I sent a telegraph to the Asyut governor and to the interior minister, but no one could help me," he said.
On Nov. 27, nine days after his kidnapping, 14-year-old Abanoub Aziz Narrows' body was found in a canal near the city of Dairut.
"His hands and legs were tied, and there was a rope around his neck, and there were effects of torture on his body," Aziz said. "The main reason of killing my son was the indifference and weakness of the police; they were unable to help us."
Ryan Morgan, a regional manager for International Christian Concern, says, "The ongoing forceful abduction of Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt must come to an end. The kidnapping of members of this ancient faith community has become a horrendous fundraising mechanism for radical Islamist groups to promote their own agenda.
"We call on the governorates of Minya and Asyut to immediately step up their protection of Coptic Christian communities and to pursue the perpetrators of these kidnappings aggressively and with every means at their disposal. Unless more is done soon, it is unlikely that we are going to see the end to the weekly kidnappings, the extortion and the murder of Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt."
This article originally appeared on persecution.org.