The Guardian

Attack on Cairo church leaves at least nine dead

Lucas Gonzalez, News Editor

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On Friday, Dec. 29 a gunman opened fire on a Coptic Christian church in the Helwan district of Cairo, Egypt. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. This is the latest attack on the Christian minority in Egypt, which has recently been under attack from extremist Islamic militants.

The church attacks left a total of nine people dead and five wounded. Of the deceased, eight were Coptic Christians and one was a police officer, according to the Associated Press.

Accounts of Friday’s events are conflicting; Egypt’s Interior Ministry cites just one attacker – a revision of initial reports which claimed that two attackers were involved and that 12 people had been killed. Officials and witnesses also mentioned more than one attacker and a higher death toll, according to BBC News.

Prior to the church shooting, the assailant attempted to attack another church in the same area but failed, instead killing two brothers at a Coptic-owned shop, according to The Washington Post.

The attacker tried to break through security barriers around the church, which were put in place in anticipation of potential attacks leading up to Coptic Christmas on January 7. Police have been stationed outside churches across Cairo as well. President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi has chaired meetings to discuss security during New Year’s Eve and upcoming Coptic Orthodox celebration, according to the Associated Press.

The gunman, who has identified as 33-year-old Ibrahim Ismail Mostafa, was known to Egypt security services, according to the Interior Ministry. “He carried out several terrorist attacks which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of policemen and civilians,” said the Ministry.

President el-Sisi condemned Friday’s attacks, which he described as “vicious.” He promised to continue “cleansing the country of terrorism and extremism.”

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Attack on Cairo church leaves at least nine dead