Egyptian authorities have identified a man they say is responsible for Friday’s attack on a Coptic Christian Church in Helwan.
Ibrahim Ismail Mustafa, 33, was the gunman who opened fire on the Mar Mina Church and a nearby shop, killing at least 11 people – including police and security guards – according to the latest casualty report.
Egypt’s Ministry of Interior said Mustafa had a lengthy history of terrorist acts dating to 2016. They include a carjacking in Cairo in which one person died, and an assault on a café in Amiriya that left three people dead and others injured. Testing done on a weapon taken from Mustafa found that “it was consistent with the weapon used in the previous terrorist operations,” the ministry statement said.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but there was no immediate information from Egyptian authorities to confirm that relationship or the extremist group’s ties, if any, to Mustafa. A second suspect was fatally shot by police at the scene.
This latest attack on Egypt’s Coptic community comes as the church plans for its Christmas celebrations, which will be held next week. Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic Church, extended his condolences to the community, Egypt’s state-run news service said.
He joined a diverse group of leaders and diplomats – including those from Kuwait, Hungary, Ukraine and the Palestinian Territories – in condemning the attack.