Nine people have been killed in Egypt during two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, the interior ministry has said.
According to the interior ministry statement, 6 civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested.
It said the gunman had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.
The interior ministry revised an earlier account given by the health ministry.
The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.
More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in 2017, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of ISIS.
Security forces have reinforced checkpoints in place around Cairo in response to the attacks.
Earlier this week, they announced plans to protect festivities around the New Year and, on January 7, Coptic Christmas. They include the deployment of rapid-reaction forces, combat troops and jamming equipment.
According to the interior ministry statement, the first attack on December 29 took place at a household appliances shop. Then the attacker headed to the Saint Mina Coptic church, where he attempted “to trespass the church’s perimeter security”.
It said that seven people, including an auxiliary policeman, had been killed and four injured as the gunman opened fire at the church.
The attacker also had an explosive device, a machine gun and 150 rounds, it added.
The ministry suggested he was known to security services, saying he was “one of the most active terrorist elements and he carried out several terrorist attacks which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of policemen and civilians”.
However, the interior ministry account contradicts earlier ones from officials and witnesses, who spoke of a higher death toll and more than one attacker.
Video footage has also emerged appearing to show one gunman lying dead at the scene and another alleged attacker fleeing in a red car.
Egypt is a Muslim-majority country and its Christian minority – mostly members of the Coptic Orthodox Church – make up around 10% of the population.
At least one person has been killed and more than 20 injured in clashes outside Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral following the funerals of four Coptic Christians killed in religious violence.
Coptic mourners leaving Cairo’s main cathedral are said to have clashed with local residents.
Police fired tear gas to break up the violence.
The head of Egypt’s national ambulance service, Mohammed Sultan, said one person had died of birdshot wounds.
Mourners inside the church had earlier chanted slogans against Egypt’s Islamist President, Mohamed Morsi.
Witnesses told local TV stations that the violence started when a mob attacked mourners as they exited the cathedral, pelting them with rocks and petrol bombs.
At least one person has been killed and more than 20 injured in clashes outside Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral following the funerals of four Coptic Christians killed in religious violence
The Christians responded by throwing rocks back, the witnesses said, until police arrived and attempted to quell the unrest.
Egypt’s state news agency said the streets around St Mark’s Cathedral had seen “on-and-off” clashes between Christians and “unidentified persons”.
It was reported that a fire had started in a building adjacent to the Cathedral, but the blaze had since been extinguished.
Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Christian church, appealed for calm and the preservation of national unity.
Speaking on Sunday evening, he said he was in contact with government officials.
Egypt’s minority of Coptic Christians, who make up about 10% of the population, have accused the government of failing to protect them, following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians have been seen numerous times since then, but this weekend’s violence was the worst seen in several months.
Police said five deaths – four Copts and one Muslim – occurred on Saturday in Khosous, about 10 miles north of Cairo, after inflammatory symbols were drawn on an Islamic institute, provoking an argument.
The dispute escalated into a gun battle between Christian and Muslim residents, while Christian-owned shops were also attacked.
Violence there flared again on Sunday, with police reporting more sectarian fighting on the streets and clashes between police and youths.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s top judicial body has urged the chief prosecutor appointed by Mohamed Morsi to step down.
Talaat Abdullah, who was named to the post by President Mohamed Morsi in December, has provoked anger by demanding the arrest of several high-profile political activists.
In a statement on Sunday, Egypt’s Supreme Judiciary Council urged Talaat Abdullah to return to his previous job as a judge.
Last week a court annulled the presidential decree that appointed him, but Talaat Abdullah continued to carry out his duties, including issuing arrest warrants for activists accused of insulting President Mohamed Morsi and Islam.
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