The Latest: Islamic State claims responsibility for attack

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The Latest: Islamic State claims responsibility for attack
The Latest: Islamic State claims responsibility for attack

CAIRO (AP) – The Latest on Coptic church attack in Cairo (all times local):

11:20 p.m.

The local affiliate of the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack at a Cairo church that left at least nine people dead.

The claim, which was carried by the group’s Aamaq news agency, said Friday’s attack was carried out by a “security detail” and that one of its men was “martyred” in it.

A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire outside the church and at a nearby store, sparking a shootout that killed at least nine people, including eight Coptic Christians, in the latest attack targeting the country’s embattled Christian minority.

The gunman was also killed, along with at least one police officer, officials said.

The attack came amid tightened security around churches and Christian facilities ahead of the Coptic Orthodox Christian celebrations of Christmas on Jan. 7. Police have been stationed outside churches and in nearby streets across Cairo. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has personally chaired meetings with his top security chiefs in recent days to discuss security during New Year’s Eve and the Orthodox Christmas.

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1:30

Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman says at least nine people, including eight Coptic Christians, have been killed in a shootout outside a south Cairo church.

Khaled Megahed says Friday’s attack took place when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside Mar Mina church. One gunman was shot dead as was a security officer, he said.

Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency, citing an unnamed Interior Ministry official, said the other assailant fled the scene and was being pursued.

Earlier, security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said two police were killed.

The spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement that at least six people were killed in the attack including five Copts and a policeman. It also said there was a separate attack on a store in the same neighborhood of Helwan that killed two Copts.

Egypt’s Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic militants in a series of attacks since December 2016 that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded

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12:30 p.m.

Egyptian security officials say two policemen have been shot dead in an attack outside a church in a south Cairo suburb.

The officials said a gunman opened fire outside a Coptic church before he was shot dead himself. They say the exchange of fire also injured three other people. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency, citing an unnamed official at the Interior Ministry, said Friday’s attack in the Helwan neighborhood was carried out by two assailants; one of them fled the scene and was being chased down.

A video circulated on social media after the attack apparently shows the dead gunman on the ground. Authorities have closed off the area around the church.

Relatives of Coptic Christians grieve as they carry the coffin of Nermin Sadek, one of the victims of the militants attack on Mar Mina church, during their funeral service in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. At least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, were killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire outside a church in a south Cairo suburb, Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman said Friday. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
A policeman stands guard in front of Mar Mina church, in Helwan, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, where several people have been killed in a shootout outside the church. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
A boy watches the site of Mar Mina church, in Helwan, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, where several people have been killed in a shootout outside the church. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
A relative of a of a Coptic Christian, who was killed during the attack on Mar Mina church, grieves during the funeral service of the victims in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. At least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, were killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire outside a church in a south Cairo suburb, Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman said Friday. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Relatives of Coptic Christians grieve as during the funeral service of victims of the attacked on Mar Mina church in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. At least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, were killed after unidentified gunmen opened fire outside a church in a south Cairo suburb, Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman said Friday. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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