Update as of 6 a.m. EDT: Four people, including one eight-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl, were killed in the attack on the St. Mary church, Bloomberg reported. The attack, which was condemned as a “criminal cowardly act” by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, injured 17, the report said. Earlier reports had said three people had been killed in the attack.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic Christian church in Cairo late on Sunday, killing three people, including an eight-year-old girl. The girl and a man died on the spot, while a woman died on her way to the hospital, BBC reported.
The assailants opened fire indiscriminately as they drove by the church in Cairo's Waraa district, in the latest instance of attacks against Christian businesses and churches, which have claimed several lives as the minority community continues to be targeted by the country’s Islamists who accuse the Christians of supporting the army-backed ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July.
“What happened is an insult to Egypt, and it’s not only directed against Coptic Christians. We are destroying our own country,” Coptic priest Thomas Daoud Ibrahim, who was inside the church when the gunfire erupted, told BBC.
The church had been devoid of police guards since the end of June, according to another priest, Beshay Lotfi, who spoke to Egyptian media.
Coptic Christians constitute about 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million population, and during the reign of Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, the community had not faced significant threats in the country, which has a Sunni Muslim majority population.
However, his ouster triggered a series of attacks against the church, after Coptic leader Pope Tawadros II appeared alongside Egypt's army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, on television when the latter announced Morsi’s overthrow. The pope became a target of several death threats after he said the proposal announced by el-Sissi was devised by the people and took into account the country’s best interests.