Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists robbed a bank and attacked an unused church in Egypt on Sunday in an incident that killed seven people, officials have confirmed.
According to reports, the assailants split into two groups, one of whom carried out the bank robbery while the others threw grenades and started a shootout with security forces outside an unused church in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Services at the church had been suspended months ago, following multiple attacks on Christians in the Sinai region.
“They looted the entire bank and left explosive devices inside,” a senior security official anonymously told the AP.
Egypt’s state news agency MENA confirmed that the attacks had left three guards, three civilians, and one soldier dead, while another 15 people, including children, were left wounded.
Egypt’s Christian minority remains one of the Islamic State’s favorite targets, with the group even describing them in a propaganda video as their “favorite prey.” Over the past year, the group has carried out two major attacks against Christian worshippers, together killing over 50 people and wounding dozens more.
Bank robberies are also a common source of revenue for the Islamic State, as their financial structures continue to crumble. A report last month found that the U.S.-led coalition currently fighting the group has slashed the organization’s revenues by over 90 percent over the past two years, resulting from a targeted campaign on their oil revenues.
As a result, thousands of Christians have been forced to flee the region as Islamic State ratchets up its levels of persecution.
The incident took place just a day after ISIS also claimed an armed attack on a checkpoint in Sinai, killing six Egyptian policemen and leaving dozens more injured.
Following the attacks on Monday, Egyptian authorities also postponed the opening of the Rafah crossing with Gaza, which had been scheduled to open for four days, due to security concerns.
Egypt has been fighting an increasingly violent ISIS insurgency in the Sinai since the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, leading to fighting that has caused the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians.