An attack on security forces near Egypt’s St Catherine’s Monastery in south Sinai has killed at least one person and injured four, state television said on Tuesday.
Security sources said it was carried out by gunmen on a police checkpoint several hundred metres from the church entrance. No group claimed responsibility.
The attack comes just over a week after two bombings on Egyptian churches during Palm Sunday services, claimed by Islamic State, killed 45 people. Pope Francis is to visit Egypt at the end of April.
St Catherine’s is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. Attacks are common in northern Sinai, where an insurgency by Islamist militants has raged for years, but rare in south Sinai.
“That monastery and church are from the 6th century. It’s one of the oldest continuing monasteries, has one of the oldest libraries with priceless manuscripts, and is hugely symbolic,” said Johnnie Moore, evangelical author of “Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard.” “It’s impossible to overestimate the significance of this act of terror. Had they succeeded, it would have been discussed in the next 5,000 years of church history.
“The terrorists in Egypt at going after the most significant places. They previously went after the Coptic pope’s complex, and the Catholic pope is visiting next week.”