At least seven people have been killed as two gunmen opened fire at St. Mina Coptic Church in the southern outskirts of Cairo, while two brothers had previously been killed by the same attackers in a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, according to Egypt’s interior ministry. This is just the latest in in a string of attacks on minority Coptic Christians in the country this year.
One of those killed in the church assault was a muslim policeman, who was shot during a cross-fire with the terrorists, while the rest were civilians. Five others were wounded, including two in critical condition, according to the Health Ministry. According to witnesses, one of the attackers was watching the road while the other started firing a machine gun just as the church services were finishing and people started exiting the religious building.
The Ministry of Interior said that one of the suspected attacker was 33-year-old Ibrahim Ismail Ismail Moustafa, who was known to have participated before in attacks on police men and civilians. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack late Friday in a statement from the ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gave his condolences to the relatives of victims in a statement released by his office, where he reiterated the “determination to eliminate terrorism and extremism” from the country. Friday evening, crowds of Coptic Christians packed the Helwan district’s archbishopric to attend a funeral service for victims of the attack.
The interior ministry’s account differs from an earlier version of events given by Egypt’s health ministry. The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.