An Egyptian policeman and seven suspected militants were killed late on Tuesday in an exchange of gunfire after the ministry of interior received information about potential Easter attacks against Coptic Christians, the ministry said.
It said three other policemen had also been wounded.
The ministry's statement said it had received information "that there is a terrorist cell, whose elements embrace Takfiri ideology, using several areas as a shelter in eastern and southern Cairo as a starting point to carry out terrorist operations" against the country’s Coptic Christians during the Holy Week and Easter Sunday.
The Copts, an Orthodox denomination who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s more than 100 million inhabitants, are the Middle East’s largest Christian community. They celebrate Easter on April 19.
Two private television stations broadcast what they said was footage of the shooting, which Reuters was not immediately able to verify. The stations asked people to stay indoors.
Weapons and ammunition were found at the scene, the ministry said.
The public prosecutor said a team of investigators was dispatched to the scene of the exchange in the al-Amiyira district of the capital.
Coptic Christians have long complained of persecution and insufficient protection. There have been several deadly attacks against them across the country.
The last major attack, claimed by Islamic State, was in November 2018 when gunmen targeted two buses near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, 260 km south of Cairo killing seven people and wounding 18.