9 dead after gunmen open fire at Coptic church near Cairo
Nine people were killed Friday after gunmen opened fire at a church near Cairo, Egypt’s Health Ministry told CNN, the latest in a string of attacks on Coptic Christians in the country this year.
One of the attackers was killed by Egyptian security forces, said Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed, while another was arrested with a machine gun, ammunition and a bomb, the Interior Ministry told state media.
The assault was carried out at the St. Mina Coptic church in Helwan, a district on the southern edge of the Egyptian capital. A witness told CNN that he saw two attackers, but it was not immediately clear who they were or if there were more attackers involved.
Among the nine killed were eight Christians and a police officer, who was Muslim. Five others have been injured, including two in critical condition, the Health Ministry said.
Father Ebram Mikhail, the Archbishop of the Helwan district, told CNN the attack happened 10 minutes after a church service ended and that worshipers were gunned down outside the church door. He said that worshipers still inside could hear the machine gun firing rounds for about 15 minutes.
Badr Mohamed Badr, a fruit seller, witnessed the attack from his stall and said he saw a shooter on a motorcycle fire a gun at a police officer. He said he saw two attackers, one watching the road and the other firing a machine gun.
A security cordon has been put up at the scene and officials are inspecting the site. Images from the scene show blood stains on the building’s outer walls and on the pavement.
Coptic Christians have been regularly targeted in attacks in Egypt this year. Several of the attacks were carried out by ISIS and its affiliates.
In May, gunmen killed at least 28 Coptic Christians aboard a bus traveling along a desert road on the way to a monastery.
On Palm Sunday, 49 people were killed in bombings at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, though it offered no proof of its connections to it.