Najwa was among seven police personnel who were killed when suicide bomber struck outside Coptic church in Alexandria
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Cairo: Hundreds of Egyptians on Monday mourned the country’s first-ever fallen policewoman who was killed in a suicide attack on a church the day before.
Brigadier Najwa Al Hajar was among seven police personnel who were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the St Mark’s Coptic Church in the coastal city of Alexandria on Palm Sunday after he had failed to enter the place where Coptic Pope Tawadros II led a mass.
The attack came hours after a first bombing had targeted Coptic worshippers inside a church in the Nile Delta of Tanta. A total of 45 people were killed in both attacks.
A military funeral was held for Najwa, a Muslim, before her burial in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city.
Born in 1963, Najwa graduated from the Police Academy in 1987.
She had since had several security stints, including serving at the Alexandria Work Permits Department.
In recent months, she was tasked with searching women worshippers before they were allowed into churches on religious occasions as part of security measures to protect Egypt’s Christian minority.
Najwa, a mother of a police captain, was nicknamed by her colleagues “Mama Najwa” because of her caring nature. Last year, her younger son, Mohab, died in an accident.
“She always wished to be a martyr,” her husband, Major-General Ezzat Abdul Qader, said after her death.
“She wanted to meet our son, Mohab, in heaven. She was never afraid of death because she was always ready to meet Allah with her good deeds,” Abdul Qader, the chief of the Alexandria Harbour Security Department, added in press remarks.
Najwa’s death triggered an outpouring of tributes for her in Egypt.
Local media called her the “first martyr woman in the history of the Egyptian police”, and an “officer with the rank of a heroine”.
The National Council for Women also paid tribute to her. “She is one of the martyrs who have scarified themselves for the homeland and recorded their names in glory in history,” the council said in a statement.
Hundreds of Egyptian security forces have been killed in militant attacks that have hit the country since the army’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following mass protests against his rule.
During Najwa’s sombre funeral, some mourners chanted her praise: “There is no god but Allah and Najwa is a martyr. No to terrorism”.
Some female mourners fought back their tears and let out traditional ululation in a gesture of joy over her “martyrdom”.
The Interior Ministry has paid tribute to Najwa and vowed no relentlessness in “fighting forces of dark”.