Seven members of an Islamist terrorist cell suspected of plotting to attack Christians in Egypt under cover of the national nightly Covid-19 curfew, were shot dead by police on 14 April.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry, which oversees the police force, said the gang was preparing to strike on or before Sunday 19 April, when Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter.
“The cell was planning to commit its terrorist operation during the nightly [Covid-19] curfew, taking advantage of the state’s preoccupation with fighting the coronavirus,” said Farouk al-Makrahy, a former assistant to the Minister of Interior.
A police officer was killed when security forces raided a ten-storey apartment block in Al Amiriya, east of Cairo, where the alleged terrorists were hiding. The Interior Ministry reported that security forces seized weapons and ammunition in the raid, including six machine guns.
In January 2019, an Egyptian police officer was killed while attempting to defuse a bomb planted near a Cairo church only two days before 7 January, the date when Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas. On 29 December 2018, IS gunmen killed nine Christians as they walked to a church in Helwan, south of Cairo. In December 2016, 29 people were killed, mainly women and girls, when an IS suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a church near the main cathedral in Cairo.