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Witnesses to an attack claimed by Islamic State, in which at least nine people were killed outside a church in Cairo, claimed residents and worshippers may have prevented a much higher death toll.

The WCC issued an appeal to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to religious leaders and to governments across the region "to act swiftly and boldly to safeguard the fundamental religious rights of all faiths, to ensure security in the face of violence and to guarantee justice for all people". Of the deceased, eight were Coptic Christians and one was a police officer, according to the Associated Press. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Investigators have identified the gunman, it said, adding that he had carried out several attacks since past year.

Egypt's Coptic Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic terrorists in several attacks since previous year that have killed over 100 people and wounded many others.

The attack began around 10:30 a.m. when Mass at the Mar Mina church in the southern Cairo suburb of Helwan had just finished and worshippers were starting to make their way home.

Egypt faced four main terror attacks on worship sites, including three Christian churches and a mosque for Muslim worshipers, in addition to a terror attack on a bus carrying Christians on their way to a monastery.

One video posted on social media Sunday showed the final minutes before the gunman was shot.

Police have stepped up security measures around churches ahead of Coptic Christmas celebrations on January 7, deploying officers outside Christian places of worship and setting up metal detectors at some of the bigger churches.

Earlier, security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said two police were killed.

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

The spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement that at least six people were killed in the attack including five Copts and a policeman.

According to Ministry of Interior's statement, attackers opened fire at a household appliances shop, then headed to the church, where they attempted to trespass the church's perimeter security. When the assailant was pinned to the ground by a man identified by local media as 53-year-old Salah el-Mougi they rushed toward the assailant.

Security sources said on Saturday that the captured injured attacker of Helwan's Church of Great Martyr Mina underwent successful surgery to remove bullets from his foot.