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The New Arab

Pope prays for Egyptians killed in IS church attack

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 December, 2017

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Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the deadly attack in a shootout outside a south Cairo church that left nine people dead.
Pope Francis prayed for the victims of Friday's deadly attack on a church south of Cairo by an Islamic State group-linked gunman.

The Pope expressed on Sunday his closeness to "the Orthodox Copt brothers" of Egypt after the attacks two days earlier in Helwan left at least eight dead, as well as a police officer.

The gunman opened fire outside the Saint Mina Coptic church in the district of Helwan, in the latest attack targeting the majority country's embattled Christian minority.

Pope Francis prayed for God to "welcome the souls of the dead, sustain the wounded, their relatives and the entire community, and convert the hearts of the violent ones".

US President Donald Trump yesterday condemned the attack and "emphasised his commitment to strengthening efforts to defeat terrorism and extremism in all their forms".

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

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.

In a statement released via its propaganda agency Amaq, IS said a group of its "soldiers" had carried out the attack, killing 10 "crusaders" and police officers.

It added that one of its fighters had been killed.

An IS affiliate in Egypt has killed dozens of Christians in church bombings and shootings during the past year, and has threatened further attacks against the minority.

Last month, militants in northern Sinai killed 305 people in the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in Egypt's modern history, at a mosque near al-Arish.

Friday's attack came ahead of Christmas for the Copts, who celebrate it on 7 January.

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