9 dead after gunmen attack church in Cairo

Egypt church attack

The attacker was wearing an explosive vest and was shot dead by the church's security forces.

A gunman killed at least 11 people on Friday in attacks on a Coptic Orthodox church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo before he was wounded and arrested, the Egyptian interior ministry and church officials said.

Egypt's Copts have been subject to several deadly attacks over the past few years, which has raised questions about the Egyptian state's ability to protect its Christian population from terrorist threats.

The gunman killed at least nine people, including a policeman, at the church, according to Interior Ministry and Coptic Church accounts.

No one has claimed responsibility as of Friday morning, but the Islamic State has largely claimed responsibility for previous attacks on Christian churches in Egypt. It was not clear how many assailants were involved.

Cairo's security chief was headed to the scene, local media reported.

Two police officers are thought to be among the dead.

Police have stepped up security measures around churches ahead of Coptic Christmas celebrations on January 7, deploying officers outside Christian places of worship and setting up metal detectors at some of the bigger churches. The Egyptian Ministry of Defense has said it will mobilize troops to augment the 200,000 police deployed at more than 2,600 churches around Egypt for the Christmas celebration.

Cellphone footage posted on social media appeared to show gunman barely conscious, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him. Authorities closed off the area around the church.

Investigators have identified the gunman, it said, adding that he had carried out several attacks since previous year. One of the a tackers had been killed and the other captured by Egyptian security.

The jihadists are believed to have also carried out a massacre of Muslim worshippers in Sinai last month, killing more than 300 in an attack on a mosque associated with the mystical Sufi strand of Islam which IS views as heretical.



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