Egyptian Coptic priest killed in Cairo attack

Egyptian Coptic priest killed in Cairo attack

Egyptian Coptic priest killed in Cairo attack

In this May 26, 2017 file photo, Coptic Christians shout slogans after the funeral service of some of the victims of a bus attack, at Abu Garnous Cathedral in Minya, Egypt. (Credit: Amr Nabil/AP.)

A priest in Egypt has died after an attacker struck his head with a cleaver. The assailant was later arrested. Attacks on Egypt's Christians, who account for about 10 percent of the country's 94 million people, have surged in recent months, with a series of suicide bombings claimed by the extremist Islamic State group killing more than 100 since December.

CAIRO — Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church says a priest has been killed in a knife attack in a poor Cairo district, the latest deadly assault on members of the country’s Christian minority.

The church said the attack took place Thursday and that the priest died later in hospital.

Security officials say the attacker struck the priest’s head with a cleaver. They said he fled the scene but was later arrested. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

The motive was not immediately known.

Attacks on Egypt’s Christians, who account for about 10 percent of the country’s 94 million people, have surged in recent months, with a series of suicide bombings claimed by the extremist Islamic State group killing more than 100 since December.

RELATED: Catholic leader says Egypt needs to fight fundamentalism

A bomb attack on Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral in December 2016 left at least 25 dead, while Palm Sunday bombings at two other Coptic churches killed 47 people.

In May, a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including many children, was traveling on a side road in the desert to the remote monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha when it was attacked by Islamic terrorists, leaving 29 people dead.

During a visit to Egypt in April, Pope Francis demanded that all religious leaders step up to counter what he described as the “incendiary logic of evil,” and said it’s past time to turn “the polluted air of hatred into the logic of fraternity.”

The pontiff said violence in the name of God is “the negation of every authentic religious expression.”

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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