Gunmen Kill Police Officer Near St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt

CAIRO — Gunmen attacked a checkpoint near the iconic St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, killing one police officer and wounding four others on Tuesday evening, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the shooting through its Amaq news agency, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist communications.

Although comparatively small by the standards of the Sinai insurgency, the assault was a relatively rare instance of violence in the southern part of the province, and it came just nine days after Islamic State suicide bombers killed 45 people in attacks on two churches — in Alexandria and Tanta — on Palm Sunday.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said that gunmen opened fire on the checkpoint with small arms, then fled after coming under fire from Egyptian security forces.

The four wounded police officers were taken to a hospital in the nearby Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. There was no word of any militant casualties.

The attack came at a sensitive time in Egypt, just over a week before a planned visit to Cairo by Pope Francis that the Vatican has billed as an opportunity to strengthen ties between Muslim and Christian leaders.