Seven killed in attack on Coptic Christian bus in Egypt

CAIRO: Seven people were killed and 20 wounded on Friday when gunmen opened fire on three buses carrying Coptic Christians.

The attack took place near the remote desert monastery of St Samuel in Minya province.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi offered condolences for the victims and vowed to push ahead with a campaign to crush militants in the country.

“I wish a speedy recovery to the injured and assert our determination to fight dark terrorism and to pursue the perpetrators,” El-Sisi said.

Security forces rushed to the scene and ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals nearby, a security source told Arab News.

Coptic Orthodox Church spokesman Bouls Halim said the death toll in the attack was likely to rise, AP reported.

Egypt’s Coptic priest Agathon speaks to a woman at the Sheikh Fadel hospital where she was being treated for her injuries in the attack. (AFP)

Daesh, which has carried out similar attacks, said it was behind the massacre. The extremist militants have been fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula and along Egypt’s border with Libya.

Friday’s attack is the second to target pilgrims heading to the St Samuel monastery in as many years. A Daesh attack on a bus convoy in Minya in May 2017 killed at least 29 people.

A security source told Arab News that the gunmen attacked the bus on side roads leading to the monastery after the main route had been closed by police for security reasons since the 2017 attack. Communications networks in the area had also been disrupted for the same reason.

Al-Adwa, Beni Mazar and Maghagha hospitals declared a state of emergency as they treated the injured.

A spokesman for the monastery, Peter Lahami, said there were people with very serious injuries and that the death toll could increase.

Another church source said the bus had come from Margarijs in Sohag.

Coptic expert Robier Al-Faris said that after Egypt’s major security operation in Sinai to clear militants from the peninsula, some of the extremists had spread south to continue attacks.

The Egyptian security forces have recently carried out several raids on militant targets, training camps and support centers in Upper Egypt.

The pilgrims were on their way to the St. Samuel the Confessor monastery when they were attacked. (Wikipedia Commons)

Last week, 11 extremists from the mountainous area of Dashlout-Farafra in Assiut province were killed.

A week before, nine militants were killed in a mountain cave in a remote area of Assiut.

The attack last year was the latest in a deadly series that targeted churches in Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta

Those attacks, all claimed by Daesh, killed at least 100 people and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and other Church-linked facilities.

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