Rome, April 19 (IANS/AKI) The Islamic State jihadist group has taken credit for a deadly ambush at an Egyptian police checkpoint near the iconic Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai late Tuesday, US terrorist-tracking organisation SITE reports.
IS claimed the attack in a message published by its Amaq news agency, SITE said.
The attack – the first IS has staged against a monastery – comes ahead of a visit to Egypt by Pope Francis later this month.
An Egyptian policeman was killed and four were injured during the firefight with IS gunmen, several hundred metres from the monastery’s entrance, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The remote 6th-century monastery is located in the desert at the foot of Mount Sinai in the southern part of the volatile Sinai Peninsula.
St Catherine’s is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and a Unesco world heritage site.
Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency after 45 people died in Palm Sunday attacks against Christian churches in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria on April 9.
The Sinai Province Egyptian branch of IS claimed the Palm Sunday attacks and the group has vowed further attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, which makes up 10 percent of the population.