An ultra-conservative Islamic political party in Egypt, Al-Nour, has publicly condemned the killings of Copts in northern Sinai, saying they “go against the teaching of Islam”.

The House of Fatwa, chaired by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, also condemned the murders, saying they are “sabotaging” national unity.

Coptic families have been fleeing Sinai’s largest city, El-Arish, en masse since last week a sixth Copt was killed inside a month.

Catholic news agency Fides reported that more than 100 Coptic families have fled, while AFP said that one church in Ismailia, near the Suez Canal, has already welcomed 250 fleeing Christians.

“They’ve come running with their children. It’s a very difficult situation. We’re expecting 50 or 60 more,” a church deacon told AFP.

One source, Copts Today, estimated that over 1,000 of the 1,700 Copts living in El-Arish have now fled.

The killings coincided with a video message from an Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group, vowing to “eliminate” Egypt’s Christians.

Apart from Sinai, there was a spate of murders of Copts scattered across other areas, including Old Cairo, over the Coptic New Year; police at first blamed them on criminal acts, when evidence appeared not to support that.