A gunman has killed nine people after twin attacks on a bookshop and church south of Cairo in the latest jihadist attack on the country’s Coptic Christian minority.
The fanatic, armed with an assault rifle, 150 rounds of ammunition and a bomb, went on the rampage outside Mar Mina church in the capital before being shot himself as he tried to storm the building.
Footage posted on social media appeared to show the bearded man wearing a bulky ammunition vest sprawled on a street, barely conscious, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him.
The gunman, already wanted over attacks on police, first targeted a Coptic owned bookshop killing two before moving on to the church and slaughtering seven more.
Dramatic footage captured a gunfight outside the church and shows what is believed to be the jihadist walking around with his assault rifle.
It comes in the wake of a series of massacres at Coptic Christian churches carried out by ISIS in recent years.
Cellphone footage posted on social media appeared to show a gunman barely conscious on the ground, as people restrained his arms and then handcuffed him
Dramatic footage has emerged online showing a gunfight outside the church (right) and what is believed to be the jihadist walking around with an assault rifle (left)
A pool of blood could be seen on the ground as a security official inspected the damage at Mar Mina church following an attack in the district of Helwan, southeastern Cairo
The attack took place in the Helwan district on the capital’s southern outskirts this morning
Pictures show pools of blood on the ground and bullet holes in the walls of the church in the aftermath of the gunfight.
There were conflicting reports from Egyptian officials as to whether the gunman had been killed or wounded. It was also reported that there were two assailants and that one had gone on the run before being captured.
The interior ministry said he killed two people when he opened fire on a store before heading to the church where he shot dead seven people including an officer.
Police later cordoned off the crime scene as onlookers crowded around the church, while a forensics team combed the area.
Friday’s attack came ahead of Christmas for the Copts, who celebrate it on January Five people were wounded in the attack including two women who are in a serious condition in hospital.
There have been numerous attacks on Coptic churches in recent years.
ISIS in Egypt has killed dozens of Christians in church bombings and shootings over the past year, and has threatened further attacks against the minority.
Samir Gerges, a witness, said people inside the church closed the gates when the shootout began but bullets from the gunfire still entered the building.
He said he was walking in a nearby street when the shooting happened. He saw people running and some of them went to hide from the gunfire inside a nearby restaurant.
Although the gunfight took place outside, blood stains could be seen on carpets inside the church after the attack
Crime scene: Detectives cordoned off the area as they scoured the area in the wake of the attack
Hundreds descended on the scene after the gun attack. Nine people were killed in the atrocity
Bullet holes could be seen in the walls of the church this morning after a gunmen opened fire
Raouth Atta, 40, was attending prayers inside the church when the shooting took place.
‘Once the gunfire was heard, the gates were closed immediately,’ she said.
‘People were terrified and wanted to check on their families in other buildings of the church. We stayed inside for 30 minutes before we were able to get out.’
Ms Atta said that once she was let outside the building she saw blood scattered everywhere.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of the country’s 93 million people, and are the largest religious minority in the region.
ISIS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April.
The Interior Ministry said two policemen had been killed in the attack on the Mar Mina church
ISIS had claimed a suicide bombing of a Cairo church in December 2016 followed by bombings of two churches north of the capital in April. Pictures show the exterior of the church
THE LATEST ATTACK ON EGYPT’S COPTIC CHRISTIAN MINORITY
Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of its population, have come under attack by Islamist radicals several times over the past years.
With a new attack on Friday, when a gunman opened fire on a church south of Cairo and killed nine people, here is a timeline of the major incidents.
– 2017 –
May 26: Masked gunmen order Christians travelling to a desert monastery to get off their buses and recant their faith.
The group – a mix of visitors and workers heading to the Saint Samuel monastery south of Cairo – refuse and are shot one by one. About 30 people are killed.
ISIS claims responsibility.
– April 9: Two churches are bombed on Palm Sunday, killing 45 people. The attacks are in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, where Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been leading a service. He is unharmed.
ISIS claims responsiblity and says both were suicide attacks.
– 2016 –
– December 11: A suicide attack during a Sunday service at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul church in central Cairo, adjacent to the headquarters of Pope Tawadros, kills 29. It is claimed by ISIS.
– 2013 –
– October 20: Four members of the same family, including two youngs girls, are gunned down by attackers on motorbikes as they leave Cairo’s Church of the Virgin following a wedding.
It is the first attack targeting the capital’s Coptic community since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
This follows attacks on dozens of churches, homes and businesses belonging to Copts after the bloody breaking up of two pro-Morsi gatherings in Cairo in August and with perceptions that Copts had backed his overthrow.
– 2011 –
– January 1: A blast kills 23 and wounds 79, mostly Christians, as they leave a Coptic church after New Year’s mass in Alexandria.