Gunmen kill 28 Coptic Christians on buses bound for Egyptian monastery

Three bodies lie covered in the desert in front of ambulances and bystanders.

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Masked gunmen have attacked a group of Coptic Christians in southern Egypt, killing at least 28 people and wounding 25 others as they were driving to a monastery, the country’s Health Ministry said.

Key points:

  • 26 killed, 25 wounded as militants attacked buses
  • Group of Coptic Christians was travelling to a monastery
  • Muslim leaders including Hamas have condemned the attacks

The group was travelling in two buses and a small truck on Friday in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority, medical sources and eyewitnesses said.

Eyewitnesses said the Copts were attacked as they were going to pray at the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the western part of the province.
They said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire.
One of the vehicles attacked was taking men to carry out maintenance work at the monastery while another was carrying children, officials said.
The Health Ministry said among those injured were two children aged two.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
However it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State, which has been spearheading an insurgency that has carried out deadly attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and, increasingly, on the country’s mainland.

Egypt launches airstrikes

Egypt responded by launching airstrikes against what it said were militant training bases in Libya.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced the retaliatory action hours after the bus was riddled with machine-gun fire on a remote desert road by suspected Islamic State militants riding in three SUVs.
“What you’ve seen today will not go unpunished. An extremely painful strike has been dealt to the bases. Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror bases anywhere,” Mr el-Sissi said.
He also appealed to US President Donald Trump to lead the global war against terror.
Muslim leaders, including the militant Palestinian group Hamas, which is seeking to improve relations with neighbouring Egypt, condemned the attack.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum in a statement called the shooting “an ugly crime,” of which “the enemies of Egypt” were the only beneficiaries.
The grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt’s 1,000-year-old centre of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilise the country.

Targeting of Coptic Christians continues

The Coptic church said it had received news of the killing of its “martyrs” with pain and sorrow.
Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population of 92 million, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months.
About 70 have been killed in bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta since December.
Those attacks were claimed by Islamic State.

Reuters/AP


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Taken from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-26/gunmen-kill-26-coptic-christians-in-egypt/8564934

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