Egyptian Police Kill Gunman Linked to Deadly ISIS Attack in Sinai

Tuesday's attack came just over a week after two other deadly suicide bombings on Christian churches, also claimed by ISIS, which killed 45 people.

FILE PHOTO: Saint Catherine's Monastery, Egypt.
Hiro Komae/AP

Egyptian security forces have tracked down and killed a gunman suspected of involvement in an attack near St Catherine's Monastery in southern Sinai that left one police officer dead and three wounded, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday. 

ISIS claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack on a police checkpoint about 800 meters (yards) from the monastery, one of the world's most important Christian sites. 

Security forces and local Bedouins followed the attackers' escape route and killed the suspect in a shoot-out. Police found an automatic weapon and ammunition, the ministry said. 

Tuesday's attack came 10 days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt and just over a week after two deadly suicide bombings on Christian churches, also claimed by ISIS, killed 45 people. 

St. Catherine's, founded in the sixth century and located at the foot of Mount Sinai, is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is part of the Eastern Orthodox church. 

Egypt's Christian minority, which makes up about 10 percent of the country's 92 million people, has increasingly been targeted by Islamist militants, with three deadly church attacks in the span of four months. 

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamist insurgency in northern Sinai, which gained pace after the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Israel will keep the border with Egypt closed for the time being, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the counterterrorism unit in Israel's National Security Council.

The decision to close the border was made last week, on the eve of Passover, in light of a security assessment of the situation in the Sinai region and the risk posed to Israelis due to increased ISIS-affiliated activity in the area.