The Egyptian Ministry of Interior has claimed to have foiled a potentially lethal attack on the Coptic Christian community. The information came to light after a policeman and seven militants were shot dead during a clash on Tuesday night. The government said that the security operation took place after authorities received information regarding a potential Easter attack against the Christian minority.
The ministry said it had been told "that there is a terrorist cell, whose elements embrace Takfiri ideology, using several areas as a shelter in eastern and southern Cairo as a starting point to carry out terrorist operations" against Coptic Christians during the Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
According to International Christian Concern (ICC), authorities discovered "ammunition, weapons, and explosives" at the scene.
The Coptics, who make up around ten percent of Egypt's over 100 million-strong population, celebrate Easter Sunday 2020 on April 19th; this is because they adhere to the Julian calendar for the calculation of Easter, whereas Western churches use the Gregorian calendar.
The last major attack on the Egyptian Coptic community was in November 2018 when ISIS gunmen opened fire on two buses near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, south of Cairo, killing seven people and wounding a further 18.
Though the thwarting of such an attack should always be interpreted as good news, ICC warned that the Egyptian authorities continue to systematically oppress the country's Christian minority.
ICC added: "The government has also used attacks against Christians, particularly during the Easter period, to seize increases of power at the expense of civil rights.
"Because of COVID-19, churches are not hosting Easter celebrations this year. For this combination of reasons, it is important that Egypt clarifies with full transparency the details of the foiled Easter attack against Christians."