The Islamic State claimed responsibility for shooting to death a Coptic priest in Egypt Thursday.
Father Raphael Musa, the priest of St. George Church in El-Arish in the northern Sinai was returning from mass Thursday when he was shot in the head multiple times by an unknown assailant, according to local police.
Shortly thereafter, ISIS claimed responsibility for the killing in an online post accusing Musa of “waging war against Islam.”
Egypt is battling the Islamic State in the Sinai by the group’s local affiliate, Wilyat Sinai, considered one of ISIS’s most brutal.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has described the group as ‘existential threat’ to Egypt’s national security interests. In April, the U.S. reportedly considered moving some of its 700 troops currently stationed in the Sinai Peninsula.
The killing is the second assassination-type hit on a Coptic figure. In 2013, shortly after the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer President Mohammed Morsi, Father Mina Aboud was attacked and killed while out walking in the Masaeed area in El Arish.
That attack was blamed on local Islamist insurgents.
In recent months, Egypt’s Coptic community has faced severe violence by locals in sectarian violence that led to the burning of 80 homes earlier this month by a mob over rumors that a Coptic man was converting a home into a church.
In May, Egypt’s Christians were victim to a similar attack in which 300 Muslims looted and torched Christian homes in the south and stripped a 70-year-old Christian woman naked after accusing her son of having an affair with a Muslim woman.