Christian families and students fled Egypt’s North Sinai province in droves on Friday after Islamic State killed the seventh member of their community in just three weeks.
Sectarian attacks occur often in Egypt but are usually confined to home burning, crop razing, attacks on churches, and forced displacement.
Arish residents said militants circulated death lists online and on the streets, warning Christians to leave or die.
Islamic State released a video on Sunday threatening Egypt’s Christians and vowing to escalate a campaign against them after it bombed a chapel adjoining Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic papacy, in December, killing 28 people.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told military and police chiefs “to completely eradicate terrorism in northern Sinai and defeat any attempts to target civilians or to undermine the unity of the national fabric”, in reference to the killings, his office said on Thursday.
Egypt is battling an insurgency that gained pace in 2013 after its military, led by Sisi, overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed.