Egypt prosecutors to question suspect in Helwan church terrorist attack once his health stabilises

Ahram Online , Sunday 31 Dec 2017

Investigators are seeking further details on the terrorist attack on Friday that left nine people dead just one week ahead of Coptic Christmas celebrations

Relatives of Coptic Christians grieve as during the funeral service of victims of the attacked on Mar Mina church in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. AP

Egypt’s High State Security Prosecution will question a suspect in Friday's terrorist attack on a Coptic church in Helwan, south of Cairo, as soon as his health stabilises, the general prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The suspect, whom the ministry identified as Ibrahim Ismail Mostafa, opened fire at Mar Mina Church on Friday, killing a total of nine people and injuring four before he was shot and captured.

The ministry said the suspect is currently in recovery.

Police revealed that Mostafa has carried out multiple terrorist attacks against civilians and policemen since 2016.

Investigators say he shot two people dead at a shop on Friday before heading to the church, where he shot dead another seven people, including a lower-ranking policeman.

According to Sunday's statement, investigators are also gathering the testimony of eyewitnesses to the attack in Helwan, with a view to determining how it was conducted.

The High State Security Prosecution has ordered the retrieval and examination of CCTV footage from both the church and the shop.

The general prosecution also ordered ballistics experts to inspect shell casings of bullets found in the vicinity of the attack in an attempt to match them with a machine gun used by the suspect. They will also be seeking to determine whether the same weapon used by Mostafa to attack Mar Mina was used in other terrorist attacks.

Friday's attack took place as Egyptian Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country's 93 million population, prepare to celebrate Christmas on 7 January.

Police have deployed 230,000 personnel nationwide to secure churches, parks and vital public institutions during Christmas celebrations.

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