Christian blood was spilled a second time in less than a week in Egypt, raising fears that Islamist extremists could be planning more deadly attacks on the country's Christian community.
Suspected extremists gunned down a 50-year-old Coptic Christian teacher, on his way to school in el-Arish, northern Sinai on Thursday, Crux Now reported. He was shot in the head by two militants on a motorbike, authorities said.
On Sunday, suspected militants shot dead a veterinarian in the same Egyptian province.
Last month, in a span of two weeks, five Coptic Christians in Egypt were killed in a series of brutal attacks. All of them had their throats slashed, the World Watch Monitor (WWM) reported.
Killed from Jan. 3 to Jan. 16 were a Christian store owner in Alexandria, a 60-year-old Christian man and his 48-year-old wife in northern Egypt, a 35-year-old surgeon, and a 37-year-old married father of two in Cairo.
In all these five cases, the victims were reportedly killed in their own homes with no signs of a struggle or robbery. In one of the cases, a Muslim man confessed that he killed the Christian store owner for selling liquor in his store.
Before January ended, suspected extremists stormed a Christian shop and killed another merchant.
All the attackers in the remaining cases remained unknown.
Egyptian authorities claimed robbery was the motive in most of the cases even though no valuables were found to have been taken from the victims.
"Copts have been terrified by the nature of the killings and believe the victims were singled out because of their faith," WWM said.
Egypt is ranked as the 21st worst nation persecuting Christians, according to Open Doors USA's 2017 World Watch List.
Also in January, Egyptian prosecutors dropped a case against a group of Muslims accused of stripping a 70-year-old Christian grandmother naked and parading her in the streets in Egypt.
The prosecutors said they didn't have enough evidence to convict the accused despite oral testimonies presented in court supporting the victim's claims from family members and the police officers who were present at the scene of the crime, which happened in May 2016.
Egypt has an estimated population of nine million Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, accounting for about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million, which is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.
The Copts have long complained of discrimination and have frequently been targeted by Islamist extremists.
In December, a suicide bombing in a packed Coptic church in Cairo claimed by the Islamic State killed nearly 30 worshippers.