More than 100 Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt due to rising levels of violence against the religious group in recent months, according to media reports.
In just the past month alone, seven Coptic Christians have been killed in the Sinai Peninsula, including the most recent February 23 incident of a man who was shot and killed in front of his wife and family.
In December, more than 25 were killed at a suicide bombing incident at a major Coptic cathedral in Cairo.
Though no one has taken responsibility for the attacks, most believe they were carried out by the Sinai Province branch of the Islamic State, known as the Wilayat Sinai.
The Wilayat Sinai published a video online on February 19 threatening to kill all Christians in the region.
“There will be more operations in the near future, if God wills it, as you are our first target and our preferred target in our war,” the video states.
“You followers of the Cross, you traitors of all ties — know that warriors of the Islamic State are watching you, and our blessed invasion won’t be our last on you. Because what’s coming is worse and hotter than boiling oil, so wait and see, we will be victorious,” it continues.
Egyptian media and the Christian community in Egypt estimate that about 118 Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in Al-Arish, located in the Sinai Peninsula.
Most of these internally displaced families have taken shelter in Ismailia province, according to Egyptian media, and are being provided with housing and resources from the government. Some are staying in private residences and churches.
“They’re exhausted, with urgent needs for food and children’s clothing,” Nabil Shukrallah of the Evangelical Church, told the Associated Press. “They’re terrified of the violence and brutality.”