An ISIS leader based in Egypt warned Christian events, gatherings of the army and police, and areas hosting government facilities are all “legitimate targets”.
The chilling warning comes as Christians in Egypt continue to mourn after 45 people were killed and at least 100 people injured in the Palm Sunday bombings on Coptic churches.
The unnamed ISIS leader told a jihadi magazine: “We are warning you to stay away from Christian gatherings, as well as the gatherings of the army and the police, and the areas that have political government facilities.”
ISIS vowed to eradicate Christianity from Egypt in a propaganda video released in February.
The terrorists named wealthy Christian businessmen and individuals as the jihadis’ “favourite prey” and threatened to increase attacks against Christians in Egypt and to “liberate” Cairo.
Attacks have forced at least 175 families to flee North Sinai with president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launching a major crackdown on Islamist extremists.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s 90 million people with an advocacy charity saying Egypt is the 21st most dangerous country in the world for Christians.
Last month Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency after the Palm Sunday bombings.
Religious minorities are increasingly targeted by Sunni Islamist militants, posing a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect them as part of his campaign against extremism.
But ISIS is putting more pressure on the government and stretching the security services by targeting outside its base in Sinai.
Militants have stormed Christians homes and shot men dead in front of their families, with others murdered on their way to work.
Kamel Youssef, a 40-year-old plumber, was killed after militants stormed his home and shot him dead in front of his wife and children. Some sources say the family’s house was set on fire after the shooting.
At least six Coptic Christians have been killed in Sinai’s largest city El-Arish in recent weeks forcing Christian families to leave.