Two attacks on Coptic Christians in the capital of Egypt Friday have left as many as 12 people dead.
The first attack took the lives of 10 people after gunmen attempted to enter the Mar Mina church in the Helwan area south of Cairo, but were stopped by police.
According to the BBC, the officers, who were outside the church at the time, reportedly noticed two men acting suspiciously just moments before the attack.
Numerous injuries were reported and three of the 10 dead were said to be police officers.
One of the attackers, who was killed by police during the attack, was found with an explosives belt. The second gunman was located some time after with “weapons, ammunition and a bomb.”
Two more people were killed roughly an hour later during an attack on a nearby Coptic-owned shop.
Checkpoints were set up following the attacks by Egyptian security forces, who had stated earlier this week that Christians would receive protection during the holiday season.
“Egypt’s Copts have in the past accused authorities of only token gestures to protect them and these incidents will not help calm tensions…” the BBC reports.
Over 100 Christians, who represent only 10 percent of the Egyptian population, have been killed in Egypt this year. The majority of the attacks have been carried out by a local group aligned with ISIS.
ISIS claimed responsibility last April for two suicide bombings, which took the lives of 45 people, at churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday services.
A report from the Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions stated earlier this year that 90,000 Christians were killed for their beliefs worldwide in 2016 – making them the most persecuted religious group for the second year in a row.
The study also indicated that Islamist groups such as ISIS were responsible for nearly one-third of those deaths.
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