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Attack on Egyptian Coptics kills six

  • Security forces search for the shooter, government says
  • Coptics observe Christmas Day on Thursday
  • Egypt

(CNN) -- Shooters opened fire at a gathering outside an eastern Egyptian church, killing six during the celebration of a Christian sect's Christmas Eve, Egypt's Interior Ministry reported.

Coptics -- adherents of an Egyptian sect of Christianity that observes Christmas Day on January 7 -- were leaving mass at 11:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. GMT) Wednesday in Naga Hammadi City when they were attacked, the government told CNN.

One of the dead in the drive-by shooting was a police officer, and the five civilians were all Coptic Christians, the ministry said. Seven others were injured in the shooting in the Nile River coastal city.

Security forces were searching for the shooter, who was accompanied by other individuals in the car, the government said.

About 9 percent of Egyptians are Coptic, according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book. Ninety percent of Egyptians are Muslim.

CNN's Waffa Munayyer contributed to this story.