US President Donald Trump stressed his country’s full solidarity with Egypt in its war against terrorism in a phone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi hours after Friday’s terrorist attack on a Coptic church south of Cairo, which killed nine and injured five, a statement by the Egyptian Presidency read.
In an official statement, Egyptian Presidency Spokesman Bassam Rady said Trump called El-Sisi to express his condolences for the victims of the terror attack on the church of Mar Mina in Helwan district, reiterating the US stance with Egypt against terrorism.
El-Sisi expressed to Trump his sincere gratitude for the president’s condolences, stressing the importance of uniting international efforts to combat terrorism and eradicate it.
According to a press release by the White House, Trump emphasized during the phone call his commitment to strengthening efforts to defeat terrorism and extremism in all their forms.
On Friday, ahead of Coptic Christian celebrations next week, two unidentified gunmen killed nine people as they opened fire on the church.
The interior ministry said it arrested one of the attackers, who attempted to drive through security forces outside the church armed with a machine gun, ammunition and a bomb that he intended to detonate in the church.
The ministry said the man also killed two people when he opened fire on a shop before heading to the church where he shot dead seven people, including a policeman.
The ministry identified the attacker as Ibrahim Ismail Mostafa, adding that he has carried out multiple terrorist attacks against civilians and policemen since 2016.
Friday's terrorist attack took place as Egyptian Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country's 93 million population, make preparations to celebrate Christmas on 7 January.
Police have deployed 230,000 personnel to protect churches, parks and other vital public institutions during the Christmas season.
Dozens of Coptic Christians have been killed in several terrorist attacks on churches and congregations in recent years.