World Watch Monitor

Eleven men suspected of an attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt’s capital Cairo a year ago will have to appear before a criminal court, reports Coptic news site Watani.

The suspects were caught by police following a double attack on the Mar Mina and Pope Kyrillos VI Coptic Orthodox Church in the Helwan district south of Cairo, on 29th December 2017, in which eight Christians were killed and five injured.

Egypt’s Prosecutor-General, Nabiul Ahmad Sadeq, referred the case to a criminal court for trial. The suspects, between 30 and 58 years old, face charges of conducting terror activities including premeditated and intended murder, robbery, unlicensed procuring and carrying arms and founding and leading a terror organisation, assaulting the personal freedom of citizens and harming national unity and social peace.

On the day of the attack, a Friday morning, two masked gunmen opened fire on worshipers as they were leaving the church after the service had ended.

Among those killed were two Coptic brothers who were shot dead in their father’s shop by the attackers prior to arriving at the church.

The attack was claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group.

In October, a military court handed death sentences to 17 people for carrying out bomb attacks on Coptic churches in 2016 and 2017 that killed dozens of people, and which also were claimed by IS. The court sentenced 19 others to life over the attacks and 10 more received 10- to 15-year prison terms.

IS released a propaganda video in February, 2017, vowing to wipe out Egypt’s Coptic Christians and “liberate Cairo". An IS affiliate known as Sinai Province has attempted to impose its hard-line interpretation of Islam on Egypt’s North Sinai population around El-Arish.