Gunman Kills 9 in Attack on Egypt Church

Egypt's Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 93 million people and are the largest religious minority in the region

Egypt's Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the country's 93 million people and are the largest religious minority in the region

A gunman opened fire on a church south of Cairo on Friday and was shot dead by policemen, police officials said.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said one of the two attackers was killed.

The last reported attack on Egypt's historic minority took place on December 11 after a bomb went off at Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral, leaving at least 22 people dead and 35 wounded.

Islamist militants have killed dozens of Christians in bombings and shootings in recent years. The claim was carried by the group's Aamaq news agency.

Coptic churches in Egypt are often attacked.

"People were terrified and wanted to check on their families in other buildings of the church", she told The Associated Press by phone.

Hundreds of Muslim demonstrators attack an unlicensed church south of Cairo wounding three people. It also said there was a separate attack on a store in the same suburb of Helwan that killed two Copts.

Nine were killed in total, including one policeman at the church, the ministry said.

Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians are frequently targeted in Egypt.

Medical and security sources said six of the dead were church-goers and three were police. Al Arabiya TV channel reported that one of the accomplices of the terrorists fled the scene.

They announced plans to deploy rapid-reaction forces and electronic jamming equipment earlier this week to protect festivities around the New Year and Coptic Christmas on 7 January. The country has been under a state of emergency since April after suicide bombings struck two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday.

Smartphone users have begun posting footage of the attack online.

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