Gunman launches deadly attack on Coptic church near Cairo

30 December, 2017, 02:12 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Egypt's Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 93 million people and are the largest religious minority in the region

Two unidentified gunmen killed nine people as they opened fire early Friday on a church south of Cairo, ahead of Coptic Christian celebrations next week, Egypt's state TV and health ministry said.

The attack began when the gunman tried to break through the security cordon outside the Coptic Church of Mar Mina.

The UK Guardian cites Egyptian media sources that say at least one attacker was able to flee the scene, while another was overpowered and restrained by police and bystanders.

State television reported that a second assailant who escaped had been arrested.

US President Donald Trump spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on Friday and offered his condolences to the Egyptian people after the terrorist attack that took place in Helwan, south of Cairo.

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Authorities reported at least nine people dead, among them three police officers.

The spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement that at least six people were killed in the attack including five Copts and a policeman.

The attack came amid tightened security around churches and Christian facilities ahead of the Coptic Orthodox Christian celebrations of Christmas on January 7. Authorities closed off the area around the church.

Coptic Christians in Egypt have been under attack by extremist organisations in various incidents.

Among those killed were eight Christians and a Muslim, officials said. The country has been under a state of emergency since April after suicide bombings struck two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday in an attack that was claimed by the local affiliate of the Islamic State group.

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