Policeman Killed in Egypt Defusing a Bomb Near a Church

January 6, 2019 Updated: January 6, 2019

CAIRO—An Egyptian police officer was killed on Jan. 5 while attempting to defuse a bomb found near a Coptic Christian church in an eastern Cairo suburb, state television reported.

Security sources said two policemen and an onlooker were also injured when the device exploded. Egyptian state media and multiple security sources reported that the explosive device was one of two found inside a bag on a nearby rooftop.

The incident comes less than two days before Egypt’s Christians celebrate the Coptic Christmas.

No group has claimed responsibility for setting the bombs.

Extremists Target Coptic Christians

Egyptian security forces have for years battled Islamist extremists who have attacked Coptic Christians, tourists, and security personnel.

Security forces have stepped up their presence outside churches and other places of worship ahead of New Year’s Eve and Coptic Christmas, which is celebrated on Jan. 7.

Police guard a street near the church where a bomb was found
Following the deadly incident in Cairo, police in Egypt have stepped up their presence outside churches and other places of worship ahead of the Jan. 7 Coptic Christmas. In this photo, police guard a street near the church where the bomb was discovered, Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 5, 2019. (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Copts are the largest Christian population in the Middle East and North Africa, making up about 10% of the population in Egypt. They have long complained of discrimination.

Authorities have placed armed guards outside churches and monasteries in an attempt to protect them from jihadist attacks.

In November, extremists killed seven people returning from baptizing a child at a Coptic monastery about 160 miles up the River Nile from Cairo.