Gunmen kill 6 at Egypt church after Christmas Mass

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CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security and hospital officials say gunmen have killed at least six people in a drive-by shooting outside a church in southern Egypt as worshippers left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas.

The attack took place early Thursday in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 40 miles from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor.

A local security official says two gunmen drove by a group as they were walking out of the Virgin Mary church and sprayed gunfire randomly into the crowd. The official says at least six people had died and an administrator at the hospital where the casualties were taken said seven were dead.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

CAIRO (AP) — Gunmen killed at least two people in a drive-by shooting outside a church in southern Egypt as worshippers left a midnight Mass to celebrate Coptic Christmas, Egyptian security officials said.

The attack took place early Thursday in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 40 miles from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor.

A local security official said two gunmen drove by a group of people as they were walking out of the Virgin Mary church in the town and sprayed gunfire randomly into the crowd. The churchgoers had just celebrated midnight Mass on the eve of Coptic Christmas, which falls on Thursday.

A second security official in the capital Cairo confirmed two were killed in a drive-by shooting outside the church. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Qena is one of Egypt’s poorest and most conservative areas.

Christians, mostly Coptic, account for about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Muslim population.