Gunman kills 10 in attack on Egypt church
At least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, were killed when an unidentified gunman opened fire outside a church in a south Cairo suburb, Egypt's Health Ministry said on Friday. It was the latest attack targeting the majority Muslim country's embattled Christian minority.
Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said the attack outside the Coptic Church of Mar Mina left at least one policeman dead and five others wounded, including two critically. He also said the assailant was killed in the shootout.
The attack comes amid tightened security around Christian worship places and churches ahead of Coptic Orthodox Christian celebrations of Christmas on January 7. Police forces have been stationed outside churches and in nearby streets churches across Cairo.
A video circulating on social media after the attack apparently shows the gunman lying on the ground. Authorities have closed off the area around the church.
The shootout took place when a gunman on a motorcycle tried to cross the security cordon outside the church, the Interior Ministry said. He was arrested carrying an explosive device.
The ministry said the assailant had also opened fire at a nearby store. The shootout outside the church and at the store killed eight people and a policeman. It added that the assailant was wounded in the gunfire exchange before his arrest but didn't clarify whether the he died later.
A statement from Egypt's prosecutor general's office said an investigation into the attack would be launched.
Egypt's government has been struggling to contain an insurgency by militants, including an Islamic State affiliate that is centred in the turbulent northern Sinai peninsula but has also carried out attacks in the mainland.
The extremist group is targeting mainly security personnel and Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.
Since December 2016, Egypt's Copts have been targeted by Islamic militants in a series of attacks that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded. 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 IS affiliate.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, have long complained of discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation, and say authorities have often failed to protect them from sectarian attacks.