Seven suspected ISIS militants were killed by Egyptian forces as they gathered to plan another attack on minority Christians, the government has said.
The Mail Online reports that the jihadists, who were killed in a shootout in the southern province of Assui, were planning to attack a monastery in Durunka, Christians across Assuit and Sohag provinces, and attack police officers, government buildings and a courthouse.
Egyptian security forces raided the compound filled with machine guns, AK47s, belts and magazines of ammunition, pads filled with notes on ISIS, and details of their attack plans.
A statement by Egypt's Interior Ministry said the shootout began when the jihadis opened fire with heavy weapons as they were approached by members of the security services.
Security forces returned fire, killing the men.
Three of the men identified by security forces included Hasan Abdel-Al Siddiq, 30, a government employee with the Directorate of Health, Islam Said Abdel Salam Ismail, 21, a law student, and 22-year-old Mustapha al-Sayyed Muhammad Dhahr.
In a statement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi accused jihadis of trying to divide Egyptian society by attacking vulnerable minorities, including Christians who make up just 10 percent of the country's population.
The raid comes just days after bomb attacks on two Coptic churches holding Palm Sunday services in Egypt killed at least 44 people and injured more than 100 others.
As reported, the first bomb exploded in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, at St. George's Coptic Orthodox Church about 60 miles north of Cairo, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78 others. Just hours later, a suicide bomber was stopped at the door of St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, where he detonated explosives that reportedly killed at least 17 people and injured 48 others.
"There was blood all over the floor and body parts scattered,' a woman who was inside the church at the time of the attack said.
"There was a huge explosion in the hall. Fire and smoke filled the room and the injuries were extremely severe," another woman, Vivian Fareeg, said.
Pres. al-Sisi put the country under a three-month state of emergency and deployed the military to different parts of Egypt to ensure protection. ISIS claimed the attacks through its Aamaq news agency, less than two months after issuing threats in a video promising to rid the country of "idolaters."
"God gave orders to kill every infidel," an ISIS fighter holding an Ak-47 said in the video.
ISIS also warned Egyptian Christians that they are "watching" them.
"Oh worshippers of the cross ... the soldiers of the state are watching you," a masked ISIS fighter identified as Abu Zubair al-Masri said.
As reported, Christians in Egypt supported the military overthrow of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 in favor of now Pres. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Because of this, attacks against the minority Christians by the Islamist insurgency - which pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2014 - have increased in recent years.
Egypt falls on number 21 of Open Doors' World Watch List for 2017. While persecution in the country is not as severe as in other countries, Christians are often discriminated against in certain instances, like those involving church building construction or repair. Some Christians also experience being attacked in their homes.