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Egypt’s Sisi orders Cabinet to help resettle Sinai Christians fleeing Islamic State

(Reuters) Hundreds of Christian families and students have fled to Ismailia, north Sinai's neighboring province, after seven Christians were killed in Arish between Jan. 30 and Thursday.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, former head of the Egyptian armed forces. Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Creative Commons

CAIRO (Reuters) President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday (Feb. 25) ordered the government to take all necessary measures to help resettle Christians who have fled Egypt’s northern Sinai after the group that calls itself the Islamic State killed several members of the community.

Hundreds of Christian families and students have fled to Ismailia, north Sinai’s neighboring province, after seven Christians were killed in Arish between Jan. 30 and Thursday.

The Islamic State, which is waging an insurgency there, claimed responsibility for the killings, five of which were shootings. One man was beheaded and another set on fire.

Sisi held a meeting on Saturday with the prime minister and the ministers of defense, interior and intelligence, among other officials, to discuss “the importance to resist all attempts to sabotage stability and security in Egypt,” the statement said.

Sisi had also “directed the government to take all necessary measures to facilitate settlements for citizens in their set resettled areas.”

Orthodox Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people, are the Middle East’s largest Christian community. They have long suffered persecution.

In December, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for bombing a chapel adjoining Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic papacy, killing 28 people, mostly women and children.

Egypt is battling an insurgency that gained pace in 2013 after the military, led by Sisi, overthrew President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed.