By Associated Press –
An attack Friday on Egypt’s Coptic Christians in which gunmen opened fire outside a church and at a store in the south Cairo suburb of Helwan, killing at least eight Copts and a policeman, is the latest episode in what have now become regular assaults by militants on the country’s Coptic community.
Egypt’s Copts have long been a prime target of extremists. They were struck by a massive church bombing just weeks before the country’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising, and militants focused on them in particular during a crackdown in the 1990s.
But the past six months have been particularly bloody.
Here is a look at major attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christians in recent years:
On Dec. 29: A gunman on a motorcycle opens fire outside a church and at a store in a south Cairo suburb, killing at least eight Coptic Christians, and a policeman. The assault took place early Friday when the gunman tried to breach the church’s security cordon. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
On Dec. 22: Hundreds of demonstrators attack an unlicensed church south of Cairo wounding three people. The incident took place after Friday prayers when demonstrators gathered outside the building and stormed it.
The demonstrators chanted anti-Christian slogans and called for the church’s demolition. The demonstrators destroyed the church’s fittings and assaulted Christians inside before security personnel dispersed them.
On May 26:Masked militants riding in three SUVs open fire on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children, south of the capital Cairo, killing at least 28 people and wounding 22 others.
The assault occurs as the bus is traveling to the remote monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha, in Minya governorate.
No group immediately claims responsibility for the attack, the fourth to target Christians since December of the previous year, but it bears the hallmarks of Daesh’s local affiliate. The attack comes on the eve of Ramadan.
On April 9: Twin suicide bombings strike churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta. At least 43 people are killed and scores of worshippers injured in the Palm Sunday attack, which narrowly missed a ceremony presided over by Pope Tawadros II in Alexandria’s St. Mark’s cathedral.
On February: Hundreds of Egyptian Christians flee their homes in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, fearing attacks by Daesh militants.
The group’s North Sinai affiliate had killed at least seven Coptic Christians in the restive peninsula in less than a month. Daesh’s affiliate releases a video vowing to step up attacks against Christians, describing them as their “favorite prey.”
It showcased a deadly December attack on the church adjacent to Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral.
On December 2016: A bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral in Cairo claimed by Daesh kills 30 people and wounds dozens during Sunday Mass in one of the deadliest attacks carried out against the religious minority in recent memory.
The high death toll serves as a grim reminder of the difficulties of Egypt’s struggle to restore security and stability after nearly six years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising.
On July 2016: Pope Tawadros II says that since 2013 there have been 37 sectarian attacks on Christians in Egypt, nearly one incident per month. A mob stabs 27-year old Coptic Christian Fam Khalaf to death in the southern City of Minya over a personal feud.
On May 2016: A mob ransacks and torches seven Christian homes in Minya after rumors spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman. The elderly mother of the aforementioned man was stripped naked and dragged through a street by a mob to humiliate her.
On New Year’s Eve 2011: A bomb explodes in a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria as worshippers depart a midnight mass, killing more than 20 people.
No suspects have been named and the case remains unresolved. Attacks pick up in the aftermath of Egypt’s Arab Spring uprising that begins weeks later, then even more so after the army overthrows an elected but divisive president in 2013.