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Gunman kills 9 in attack on Egypt church

  • Samer al-Attrush

    Agence France-Presse

Cairo, Egypt | Fri, December 29, 2017 | 07:40 pm
 Gunman kills 9 in attack on Egypt church An Egyptian woman stands next to a cordoned off bullet-riddled wall at the site of a gun attack at a church south of the capital Cairo, on Dec. 29, 2017. A gunman opened fire on a church, killing at least nine people before policemen shot him dead, state media and officials said. (Agence France -Presse/Samer Abdallah)

A gunman opened fire on a church south of Cairo on Friday, killing at least nine people before policemen shot him dead, officials and state media said. 

Health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told state television that the gunman who was shot dead had killed nine people and wounded others, including a police officer.

The gunman had tried to storm the building when police shot him dead, police officials said.

State television reported that a second assailant who escaped had been arrested.

Cellphone footage posted on social media appeared to show the bearded gunman wearing a bulky ammunition vest sprawled on a street, barely conscious, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him.

Police later cordoned off the crime scene as onlookers crowded around the church, while a forensics team combed the area.

Congealing blood could be seen at a guard post in front of the church.

The Islamic State group's affiliate in Egypt has killed dozens of Christians in church bombings and shootings over the past year, and has threatened further attacks against the minority.

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.

IS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April.

A month later, IS gunmen shot dead about 30 Christians south of Cairo as they travelled to a monastery.

The jihadists are believed to have also carried out a massacre of Muslim worshippers in Sinai last month, killing more than 300 in an attack on a mosque associated with the mystical Sufi strand of Islam which IS views as heretical.

Egypt imposed a state of emergency following the church attacks and shootings, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi demanded the army quell the jihadists with "brutal force" following the mosque massacre.

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