Cairo- Dozens of Christian families have fled Egypt’s North Sinai following increased attacks and threats by ISIS-affiliated militants in the region.
The departure of dozens of families comes after many Coptic Christians were killed this month by ISIS-linked jihadists.
On Thursday, ISIS militants stormed the home of Kamel Youssef, a plumber, and shot him dead in front of his wife and children, according to aid workers and Christian officials.
A day before Youssef’s murder, militants killed a Coptic Christian man and burned his son alive, then dumped their bodies on a roadside in Arish, the province’s capital.
Three other Christians in Sinai were killed earlier, either in drive-by shootings or by militants storming their homes and shops.
According to the latest data, around seven Christians have been killed in Arish between Jan. 30 and Thursday.
ISIS, which is waging an insurgency there, claimed responsibility for the killings; five of which were shootings. One man was beheaded and another was set on fire.
ISIS released a video on Sunday threatening Egypt’s Christians and vowing to escalate a campaign against them after it bombed a chapel adjoining Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic papacy, in December.
Orthodox Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, are the Middle East’s largest Christian community. They have long complained of persecution.
The Coptic Orthodox Church denounced “the recurring terrorist incidents in North Sinai targeting Christian citizens,” and urged the government to protect Coptic Christians in the region.
The Church said in its Friday statement that these attacks are aimed at harming national unity and the united front against terrorism.
North Sinai has been caught in a crossfire between the army and militants since 2013 following the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi.
The majority of attacks have been carried out by Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (Wilayat Sinai), a terrorist organization that has officially pledged allegiance to ISIS.