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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

At least 11 killed, five injured in attack on Coptic church and shop in Helwan

At least 11 people were killed when a gunmen attacked the Coptic Orthodox Mar Mina church and a shop in Helwan before being shot on Friday. “The gunman killed at least nine people, including a policeman, at the church,” Reuters reports. “The Coptic Church said the gunman first shot at a Christian-owned shop 4 km away, killing two people.” Five others were wounded, “including two women who [the Health Ministry] said were in a serious condition.” Witnesses from the scene told The Associated Press that it was bystanders who helped contain the situation. “One man in particular — a 53-year-old resident who pounced on the gunman as he was reloading his automatic rifle — likely saved dozens of lives.” (Tap here for more survivor accounts from The AP and here for videos of the attack)

As Daesh claimed the attack, authorities were able to identify the gunman, whom investigators said was linked to several terrorist attacks since last year. Friday’s attack came a day after a roadside bomb killed six people in Sinai, including a senior military officer. Additional security forces have reportedly been deployed to guard churches around the country ahead of 7 January’s Coptic Christmas celebrations. The Interior Ministry said it has already managed to dismantle a terrorist cell that had attacks planned for New Year’s eve, killing three suspected terrorists in the process.

US President Donald Trump spoke with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi “to offer condolences to the people of Egypt” and “condemned the attack and reiterated that the United States will continue to stand with Egypt in the face of terrorism,” according to a White House statement. The Vatican’s Pope Francis has also expressed his support and condolences.

The attack requires a broad response from “an empowered civil society,” Ha Hellyer says in a piece for The National. “After attacks such as these, the instinct is to focus solely on security solutions. Security solutions are, of course, important – the attackers are violent extremists – but there are wider issues that ought to be addressed.

The story is receiving widespread international coverage, with pickups on Bloomberg, CNN, Al Arabiya, and Asharq Al Awsat. The Associated Press also has a review of recent attacks on Coptic Christians.

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