A gunman, said to be part of the Islamic Stated killed at least 11 people on Friday in attacks on a Coptic Orthodox church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo. Police forces then shot and wounded the gunman who was then arrested, the Egyptian interior ministry and church officials said.
The Islamic State, as is their usual operating procedure immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, in a statement carried out by its Amaq news agency. Although as usual, they offered no proof. However, the gunman was known to have carried out other attacks recently according to police reports.
Police have stepped up security measures around churches ahead of Coptic Christmas celebrations on Jan. 7, deploying officers outside Christian places of worship and setting up metal detectors at some of the bigger churches.
Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt’s large Christian minority in recent years, including two bombings on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral in December 2016 that killed 28 people.
The Coptic Church said the gunman first shot at a Christian-owned shop 4 km (3 miles) away, killing two people, before proceeding to the Mar Mina church in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan. The Interior Ministry said he opened fire at the entrance to the site and tried to throw an explosive device.
The gunman killed at least nine people, including a policeman, at the church, according to Interior Ministry and Coptic Church accounts. The Church said a young woman had died later from her wounds, bringing the civilian death toll at the church to eight.
The ministry said security forces had “immediately dealt with the (attacker) and arrested him after he was wounded.” It added, “Legal measures have been taken,” without elaborating.
The attack began at 10:30 a.m. and last about 15 minutes, witnesses told police that the Police Officer was killed trying to secure the door to the church keeping the attackers out. The gunman was well-known to the police and had allegedly carried out several attacks in the past year.
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