CAIRO—An explosion close to a Cairo church killed a police officer Saturday night time, the state information company reported, the newest in a surge of assaults as Egypt’s Coptic Christian group prepares to have fun Christmas.

Along with the fatality, one other officer was wounded within the blast that got here as police inspected a suspicious merchandise, in line with Egypt’s official MENA information company. Coptic Christians observe Jap Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7.

Saturday’s blast was the second lethal explosion in better Cairo in lower than two weeks. The violence represents a seamless political problem for President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a former armed-forces chief who vowed to revive safety and defend the Christian minority after he got here to energy following a 2013 army coup.

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The explosion additionally comes amid a wave of assaults on Copts, who’re the biggest Christian group within the Center East and make up 15% of Egypt’s almost 100 million individuals, in line with the Coptic Church.

On Dec. 28, a bomb blast killed 4 individuals, together with three Vietnamese vacationers and an Egyptian information, on a sightseeing bus close to the Giza pyramids in a strike on the nation’s most-important tourism website.

Following that assault, Egypt’s Inside Ministry stated safety forces killed 40 suspected militants in three separate incidents, including these killed have been suspected of planning assaults on state establishments and the tourism business.

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In November, seven individuals have been killed after gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to a distant monastery in Egypt’s Minya province. Islamic State claimed duty for the assault, which ended a lull in violence that lasted for about 10 months in 2018. Beforehand, a sequence of mob assaults in 2017 focused Coptic church buildings in rural areas south of Cairo.

Mr. Sisi, a army strongman who overthrew his elected predecessor, has repeatedly vowed to impose stability in Egypt following years of political unrest and violence on the heels of the nation’s 2011 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

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Egypt’s army is combating a long-running insurgency within the northern Sinai Peninsula, and an area militant group joined Islamic State in 2014.

Beneath Mr. Sisi, the Egyptian authorities, citing safety considerations, additionally has carried out a sweeping crackdown on political opponents by which tens of 1000’s of individuals have been arrested since 2013, in line with human-rights teams.

Islamic State assaults, together with these on church buildings in recent times, have killed dozens of Coptic Christians.

Write to Jared Malsin at [email protected]

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