Gunmen Open Fire Outside Coptic Church in Egypt

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At least seven worshippers are dead after a drive-by shooting outside a Coptic Christian celebration in Egypt.

Three gunmen drove by the Virgin Mary Church in the town of Nag Hamadi on Christmas Eve and randomly opened fire into a crowd walking out, local officials said.

Congregants had just finished Midnight Mass in recognition of Coptic Christmas, which is Thursday. Nag Hamadi is located in Qena province, one of Egypt's poorest and most conservative areas.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said the attack was probably retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man.

The church's bishop says they received threats from Muslims in the days leading up to the attack.

A recent report by Amnesty International says sectarian attacks on Christians increased in 2008. Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's mostly Muslim population.

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