CAIRO — Egypt’s state news agency says a knife-wielding attacker has been shot and killed after he stabbed a guard at a Coptic church.

MENA says the attack happened early on Wednesday at the Virgin Mary church in Cairo’s eastern suburb of Nozha. The report says other church guards at the scene killed the assailant, whose identity and motives were unclear.

MENA said that authorities are investigating.

Attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt have stepped up over the past years, especially after Coptic Christians sided with the Egyptian army in the military’s 2013 ouster of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Scores of churches were stormed, looted, and torched afterward.  Most of the assaults took place in southern Egypt.

Christians make up some 10 percent of Egypt’s 91 million people.

Most Copts in Egypt are Orthodox, though there is also a small Coptic Catholic church. Overall, the Copts represent the largest Christian tradition in the Middle East, and have long complained of discrimination and second-class citizenship under the country’s Islamic majority.