At least 10 are dead after yet another church attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt.
There were two attacks in the Helwan area south of Cairo. In the first, gunmen tried to storm the Coptic Orthodox Church of Mar Mina but were intercepted by police.
About an hour later, a Coptic-owned shop in the same area was attacked, leaving two dead.
The first attack appears to have taken place when police patrolling the Mar Mina church noticed two men behaving suspiciously, reports the BBC’s Radwa Gamal in Cairo.
They approached the men, who began firing.
The attack comes amid tightened security around churches and Christian facilities ahead of the Coptic Orthodox Christian celebrations of Christmas on January 7. Police have been stationed outside churches and in nearby streets across Cairo. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has personally chaired meetings with his top security chiefs in recent days to discuss security during New Year’s Eve and the Orthodox Christmas.
More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in the past year—most attacks claimed by the local branch of the so-called Islamic State group.
These are just the latest attacks in what has been a bloody year for Coptic Christians 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.
Earlier in the week, the Islamic State terror group called on its supporters around the world to carry out New Year’s Eve attacks on churches and other public places, demanding violence regardless if children are present or not.
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.
Fox News reports that just last week, hundreds of Muslim demonstrators stormed an unlicensed church south of Cairo wounding three people. The demonstrators shouted anti-Christian slogans and called for the church’s demolition, the diocese in the area said at the time. The demonstrators destroyed the church’s contents and assaulted Christians inside before security personnel arrived and dispersed them.