(Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
St. Mina's Church in Port Said was the site of a deadly police shootout with thieves, who had previously stolen a container containing an estimated two million Egyptian pounds.
The suspects stormed the courtyard of the church to take shelter from security forces as they demanded safe passage. Security forces disappeared from the area around the church as the members attempted to protect the church from the suspects.
The priest of the church attempted to calm the suspects to avoid any potential disaster, given recent clashes between security forces and members of the local population.
There were reports of intense shooting in the area surrounding the church, and a state of panic now dominates the residents in the area.
"After the thug was killed, his companions exchanged shots with security forces at a café in front of the church. The Copts in the church remained there after the shooting began," a witness told Mideast Christian News.
"Those in the church were surprised by the slain thug's companions storming the courtyard of the church to take shelter, brandishing their weapons to confront any attempt by security forces, who left the church without any protection, to arrest them," the witness added.