Gunmen kill policeman in attack near Egypt's St. Catherine's Monastery

21 April, 2017, 04:07 | Author: Jonathon Greene
  • Egypt: ISIS Gunmen Attack St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai

Saint Catherine monastery is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in Egypt and a major tourist attraction.

Gunmen attacked a police checkpoint several hundred metres (yards) from the church entrance. It was built in the 6 century and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Israel has chose to extend the closure of the Taba border crossing with Egypt amid fears of possible attacks on Israeli targets by militant groups operating from Egypt's Sinai.

A statement released by the Egyptian foreign ministry said an exchange of gunfire erupted late Tuesday after a group of gunmen opened fire on the police at the checkpoint, Egypt's Al Ahram newspaper reported.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Tuesday attack on the security checkpoint, which is situated some 800 meters from the monastery. Pope Francis is to visit Egypt at the end of April.

"The attack that took place near St. Catherine Monastery in south Sinai was carried out by Islamic State fighters", the group's Amaq propaganda agency said on social media accounts, citing a "security source".

The bombings killed 47 people and injured dozens more in the deadliest attack on civilians in the country's recent history.

In a related development, the Egyptian army announced Thursday that at least 19 "Sinai-based extremists", including a senior leader of the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, had been killed in aerial bombardments conducted in Sinai.

Egypt's Christian minority makes up about 10 percent of the population in the country of 92 million people, pre-dominantly Muslims.

The attack near the monastery could have been deadlier and raises further questions about Sisi's mandate, who ascended to power from the ranks of the military by promising to "eradicate terrorism in northern Sinai". The incident follows two separate attacks on Coptic Christian churches one week ago that left 45 dead and many others wounded.

This year's Easter Mass observances in Egypt were marred by the Palm Sunday terror attacks.

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