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Christian leaders have expressed alarm at the killing of a Coptic Orthodox priest in Egypt’s capital Cairo.

Father Samaan Shehata was collecting humanitarian aid for his parish in Beni Suef on Thursday when he was chased by a man who stabbed him several times.

The assailant fled the scene but was reportedly later arrested by police.

The motive for the attack, which was filmed on CCTV, was not known. However, the minority Coptic community has been targeted repeatedly in recent months.

More than 100 people have been killed since December in a series of attacks claimed by jihadist militants affiliated to so-called Islamic State (IS).

Bishop Anba Angaelos, the leader of the Coptic Church in the United Kingdom, said he was concerned about the reaction of the Egyptian authorities to the attack on Fr Samaan.

He alleged that it had taken an hour for an ambulance to arrive as the priest lay dying; that the crime scene was not secured and forensic evidence not collected; and that the attacker was immediately declared mentally incapable without a professional diagnosis.

“I pray for the wider Egyptian Christian community that feels more and more vulnerable and targeted daily against a backdrop of negligence and injustice,” the bishop added.

“I pray for the wider Egyptian society, that becomes more and more discredited and compromised as these incidents continue to happen.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, wrote on Twitter: “Deeply saddened by brutal murder of Father Samaan, Coptic Orthodox priest in Cairo. We pray for the church, for him and those who mourn him.”

Fr Samaan was killed on the same day as Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi extended for the second time a state of emergency declared in April after two deadly bombings by IS that targeted Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

Hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have also been killed by jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula since the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

On Friday, six soldiers died when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in el-Arish, the main city in northern Sinai, the military said in a statement.


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