An Egyptian Muslim woman holds candles in front of the Coptic Christian Cathedral in tribute to the victims of the bomb attack, following a deadly explosion inside a Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt December 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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When a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Cairo church a week ago, it marked a bloody escalation by Egypt's militants, raising fears that an insurgency which for years largely focused on fighting in the Sinai and killing policemen may now turn to unleash attacks on civilians in the country's capital.By targeting the minority community, the group may be betting it can sow chaos and undermine the government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi while avoiding indiscriminate bombings that kill fellow Muslims and bring an even more furious public backlash.A storm of attacks on civilians would be a frightening change for Egypt.In Cairo, they have carried out small-scale attacks on policemen and soldiers, as well as assassinations of officials, but rarely mass bombings.It was the deadliest such attack on Christians in years, recalling a 2011 suicide bombing at an Alexandria church that killed more than 20 .New groups such as one known as Hasm have emerged, launching high-level assassination attempts and attacks on security forces in mainland Egypt, including one that killed six policemen outside Cairo last week.
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