Gunman Kills 9 in Attack on Egypt Church

Saul Bowman
December 30, 2017

A gunman opened fire on a church south of Cairo on Friday and was shot dead by policemen, police officials said. One attacker carrying explosives was reportedly shot and killed by security forces and another was arrested. The Interior Ministry did not explain the reason for the different accounts.

The interior ministry said in a statement in the afternoon that it arrested an attacker who attempted to drive through security forces outside the church armed with a machinegun, ammunition and a bomb that he meant to detonate in the church.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Islamist militants have claimed several attacks on Egypt's large Christian minority in recent years, including two bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in April and a blast at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral last December that killed 28 people.

One attacker was killed and another has fled the scene on a motorbike, the statement added.

They said the exchange of fire also injured three other people.

According to the Youm7 newspaper, the security forces are now trying to detain the second attacker, who left the scene riding a motorcycle.

Authorities have closed off the area around the church.

Friday's attack took place as Egyptian Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country's 93 million population, brace to celebrate their Christmas on 7 January.

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.

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