Abied Abdel-Nour, father of Dimiana, a Christian schoolteacher, is pictured in his home in Luxor,
Christians are increasingly at risk in Egypt (Reuters)

Suspected Islamist militants have killed a Christian merchant in the northern Sinai peninsula in a further sign of escalation of violence against the Coptic minority in Egypt after the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi.

Magdy Habashi, 60, was kidnapped from the town of Sheikh Zweid. Hiis decapitated body was found in a cemetery.

Habashi was the second Christian to be killed in northern Sinai in less than a week after Fr Mina Aboud Sharobeen, a Coptic priest, was shot down in an outdoor market in the coastal city of El Arish.

Local media reported several attacks against Christians in al-Mahajer and al-Safaa in Rafah and in al-Kharouba.

"Fr Sharobeen was driving in Masaeed when he was stopped by armed assailants and shot nine times, three in his leg and six in his head and chest, which led to severe internal bleeding and death," Fr Youssef Sobhi, priest of St George in Rafah, told Mideast Christian News.

"Clergymen in Sinai have been exposed to all kinds of harassment and insults as they walk on the streets since the revolution [in 2011]."

The backlash has taken place since Coptic pope Tawadros, the spiritual leader of Egypt's eight million Christians, gave his blessing to the removal of Morsi and takeover of the country by the army. A few churches have been set on fire and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, who is under house arrest, criticised Tawadros for supporting the military intervention.

Sectarian violence against Coptic Christians gas increased in recent years. In January 2011 a car bomb exploded outside Alexandria Coptic Orthodox Church, killing 21 and injuring at least 79.

In the worst post-revolution incident, 28 people, mostly Copts, were killed during a sit-in in front of the Maspero television building in Cairo, where they had gathered to protest against the demolition of a church in upper Egypt.