A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire Friday outside a church in a Cairo suburb and at a nearby store, sparking a shootout that killed at least nine people, including eight Coptic Christians, authorities said.
Egypt's state-run MENA news agency, citing an unnamed official at the Interior Ministry, said Friday's attack in the Helwan neighborhood was carried out by two assailants; one of them fled the scene and was being chased down.
Two men on a motorcycle opened fire and tried to storm the Mar Mina church in Helwan City on Friday, which led to a shootout between the attackers and security officers, according to Egypt's Health Ministry spokesman.
Five people were wounded, including another police officer, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said.
Several security sources and local media earlier reported three policemen had been killed.
The ISIS group's affiliate in Egypt has killed dozens of Christians in church bombings and shootings over the past year, and has threatened further attacks against the minority.
State television reported that a second assailant who escaped had been arrested.More news: Alabama officials certify Doug Jones' win in special US Senate election
Also, the Italian Embassy in Egypt strongly condemned Friday's heinous attack in Helwan.
A video circulated on social media after the attack appeared to show the dead gunman on the ground.
IS claims responsibility:Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack without providing evidence for the claim, while Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar issued directives to security officials to raise the security alert to the maximum level across the country, in the wake of the foiled terrorist attack.
Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians are frequently targeted in Egypt.
Authorities have shut off the area around the church.
Pope Tawadros II says that since 2013 there have been 37 sectarian attacks on Christians in Egypt, almost one incident per month. No suspects have been named and the case remains unresolved.