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Witnesses: Bystanders, Not Police, Stopped Bigger Bloodbath at Cairo Christian Church

  • VOA News

Police inspect the site of an attack on a church in the Helwan district south of Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 29, 2017.

Bystanders and residents, not police, may have prevented a bigger bloodbath during Friday's terror attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt, eyewitnesses say.

Nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire on a church and a nearby Christian-owned store in Cairo.

The witnesses told the Associated Press it is likely more would have died if worshippers at the Mary Mina Church and others in the neighborhood did not jump into action. They

said people inside the church slammed shut the heavy iron gate to stop the shooter from getting inside.

Bystanders pelted the gunman with rocks, even as he kept firing. Others hid the gunman's motorbike to stop him from getting away.

The witnesses say one man jumped on the shooter when he stopped to reload his weapon, pinning him to the ground.

Another bystander told the AP he was about to smash the shooter in the head with a large rock, but police arrived and shot and wounded the gunman in an attempt to take him alive.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, along with several other terrorist attacks on Coptic Christians over the last year in in Egypt, resulting in the deaths of more than 100.

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