New assault on Egypt Christians: Attacker shot dead after killing guard at Coptic Church

Egyptian Copts attend the ceremony during which the 118th leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church was chosen in Cairo November 4, 2012. Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church chose a new pope, Tawadros II, in a sumptuous service on Sunday and Christians hope he will lead them through an Islamist-dominated landscape and protect what is the Middle East's biggest Christian community. | REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Church guards in Egypt shot dead a knife-wielding attacker who fatally stabbed one of their own men at a Coptic church Wednesday morning.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported that an unnamed assailant attacked one of the church guards at the Virgin Mary Church in Nozha suburb and stabbed him to death. The church's other security officials then gunned down the killer.

Though the killer's motives for the attack remain unclear as investigations continue, this follows a spike of sectarian attacks against the country's religious minorities.

Coptic Christians frustrated with the spate of religious-driven violence defied the country's ban on public protests and took to the streets in Cairo on Aug. 13 to demand their rights as citizens in the largely Muslim country.

"I am an Egyptian citizen above all," a protester named Michael Armanious told the AP. "We pay taxes, we serve in the army, we are dealing with all the same economic problems in Egypt with the rest of our countrymen, why should we have fewer rights?"

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with Coptic Pope Tawadros II and promised that "whoever has erred will be held accountable by law."

The Coptic Pope also met with state lawmakers urging them to uphold national unity as he cited a report of 37 sectarian attacks against the Coptic Christians since 2013 or an average of one violent attack per month.

"There's a gap between what the president says and what the executive implements," The Financial Times quoted Bishop Makarios of Minya as saying. "We have been patient and understanding, but many Copts increasingly feel he [Mr Sisi] has to take a position."

The sectarian violence is apparent in the town of Minya where Muslim mobs killed Copts, burned their houses and even abused an elderly Christian mother and forced her to parade naked.

"Mr President, a reminder: Copts are Egyptian and Minya is an Egyptian province," tweeted Bishop Makarios after another violence in the town.