Days ahead of the New Year's Eve, Egypt witnessed a deadly attack on the Coptic church of the Great Martyr Mina in Helwan, in a Cairo suburb, during Christmas ceremonies on Friday.
Earlier, an Al Arabiya reporter on the ground said that three policemen were killed at the scene.
During a Palm Sunday service in April more than 40 people were killed and many more injured by bomb attacks in two separate cities and in May almost 30 people were killed when gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians to a monastery.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, have long complained of discrimination in the Muslim-majority nation, and say authorities have often failed to protect them from sectarian attacks.
A gunman on a motorcycle opened fire outside the church and at a nearby store, sparking a shootout that killed at least nine people, including eight Coptic Christians, in the latest attack targeting the country's embattled Christian minority. Two other bombs were defused near the church. The group's North Sinai affiliate had killed at least seven Coptic Christians in the restive peninsula in less than a month.
State television reported that a second assailant who escaped had been arrested.
On Friday night, bodies of the six victims from the bloody attack arrived at the district's archbishopric for the official funeral, covered with Egyptian flags and were received by their families, while a number of official figures were present.
Also, the Italian Embassy in Egypt strongly condemned Friday's heinous attack in Helwan.
"The Secretary-General calls for those responsible for today's horrific attack to be swiftly brought to justice", the statement concluded.
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