Egyptian authorities on Monday arrested five men over a nighttime attack on a Cairo church that left four dead, security officials said.
One man “belonging to a terrorist organization” and four members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack Sunday on wedding guests outside the church of the Virgin in Cairo’s northern Warraq suburb, the officials said.
An Islamist coalition including the Brotherhood meanwhile condemned the attack and laid the blame on the Interior Ministry.
“The Alliance holds the putschist Ministry of the Interior responsible for this incident because it has not devoted itself to bringing about the safety of Egyptian citizens but has been busy pursuing peaceful demonstrators and students inside university campuses,” a statement from the National Alliance for the Defence of Legitimacy said.
The attack, which witnesses said was carried out by two men on a motorbike who opened fire at random with an automatic weapon, was widely condemned by Egyptian political and religious figures.
Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawy described the attack as a “despicable criminal act”.
“Such vile deeds will not succeed in driving a wedge between the two components of the nation, its Muslims and its Christians,” Mr. al-Beblawy said in a statement reported by state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
The head of Egypt’s main Islamic authority, the Sheikh of al—Azhar Ahmed al—Tayyib, condemned the attack as “a criminal act contrary to religion and morals,” Al—Ahram reported.
Hospital doctors said that two women, a man and an 8—year—old girl died in the attack, and 12 were injured.
Attacks on churches and members of Egypt’s Christian minority have reached new highs since the military ousted president Mohammed Morsy, of the Muslim Brotherhood, in early July.
Dozens of churches and monasteries in southern Egypt were attacked by crowds or burned in the days following the overthrow of Mr. Morsy, according to church officials.
The Brotherhood has condemned sectarian attacks, but its media has also portrayed the Coptic Church as a key player in the movement to unseat Mr. Morsy.