Dozens of Coptic Christians killed in Egypt bus attack

Dozens of Coptic Christians killed in Egypt bus attack
Gunmen have attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt, killing at least 28 and injuring dozens more, a local official said.
2 min read
26 May, 2017
Masked gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt on Friday morning, killing at least 28 and injuring 25, a local official said.

Assailants in three pick-up trucks attacked the bus as it carried visitors to the Anba Samuel Coptic monastery near the southern city of Minya, more than 200 kilometres from Cairo, before fleeing, the interior ministry said.

Pictures of the bus aired on Egyptian state television showed the vehicle riddled with bullets and its windows shot out.

Cellphone footage circulated on Egyptian social media sites showed several victims who had been shot scattered in the desert sand around the bus.

State television quoted a health ministry official as saying a "large number" of the victims were children.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egypt's top religious authority, Al-Azhar, condemned Friday's shooting, which took place on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"The Minya incident is unacceptable to Muslims and Christians and it targets Egypt's stability," Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb said in a statement.

The shooting is the latest in a string of deadly assaults on the beleaguered Coptic Christian community in Egypt.

In April, suicide bombings in the Nile Delta cities of Tanta and Alexandria killed 46 worshippers and injured more than 100 others as they celebrated Palm Sunday mass.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombings and threatened further attacks against Egypt's Christian minority.

Read more: Are Copts at risk because of their support for Sisi? 

In February, hundreds of Coptic Christians fled their homes in the northern Sinai Peninsula following attacks by IS, while another suicide bombing in Cairo in December 2016 killed 30 Christians and injured dozens during a Sunday Mass.

Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt's population of more than 92 million have endured successive attacks since the ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 military coup, led by then-defence minister Sisi.

More than 40 churches were targeted nationwide in the two weeks after the deadly dispersal by security forces of two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on 14 August that year, Human Rights Watch said.

They have experienced systematic repression for decades, and face exclusion from high-level public posts, including the military, while sectarian violence is routine.

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