International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that following today's conclusion of mass at Mar Mina Church in Helwan City, terrorists attacked the church as congregants were exiting to attend Sunday School. One of the attackers was wearing a suicide vest and attempted to enter the church, but was prevented by police.
One of the Sunday School teachers, Ihab, shared with ICC, "Following the end of the church mass, as the congregation of the church began to leave and I began to collect the children to start Sunday School, we heard shooting outside the church. There was a situation of terror among all the people inside the yard: they all were screaming and running. The situation was terrible, the sound of the shooting was very dense and lasted more than 20 minutes. Many of the congregation who were in the church yard preparing to leave hurried inside when they heard the shooting. They hid inside the church and closed its inside door."
He continued, "The situation was very terrible, it was like war against the church, the sound of the shooting was very terrifying. Those terrorists used automatic weapons."
A member of the congregation, Abanoub, added, "These terrorists arranged the attack of the church with precision. They knew everything about the church and the time of the ending the mass...One of them was wearing [a] suicide vest under his clothes and tried to enter the church while the worshippers were leaving the church to explode himself and kill many of them."
Abanoub elaborated, "First, the terrorists attacked the security men (police) who were assigned to guard the church and they exchanged fire with them. The terrorist wearing the suicide vest tried to storm the church during the exchange of fire to explode himself inside, but the police managed to shoot him and prevent him from storming the church."
During the exchange of shots between the police and terrorists, five Christians were killed and more than seven others injured. One of the security forces, a Muslim, was also killed.
Claire Evans, ICC's Regional Manager, said, "This brutal attack further demonstrates the ruthlessness with which extremists target Egypt's Christians. Thankfully, the attack was not as violent as the terrorists intended. But our hearts are heavy with the news of the lives lost during this assault. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost a loved one today, and we pray for the speedy healing of all those who were injured during this terrible attack."
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Publication date: December 29, 2017