Islamic attack against Coptic Christians pilgrims kills at least 7 in Egypt

Ibrahim Ezzat  Nur

Since 2016, more than 80 people have been killed and 150 wounded in attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Gunmen killed at least seven Christians in an attack on a bus near a Coptic monastery in Egypt on Friday, authorities said, in the most serious assault on the minority in more than a year.

The gunmen killed seven people and wounded 14, all of whom are in the Sheikh Fadel hospital in Beni Mazar around 200 kilometrers (120 miles) south of Cairo, said Bishop Makarios of Minya.

The incident took place on Friday as the vehicle was heading towards the Saint Samuel Coptic Christian monastery near Minya, a city about 270km south of the capital, Cairo.

Security officials said at least another 12 people were wounded in the attack, which bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting. But other attacks carried out by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) have been far more deadly.

For its part, security forces quickly surrounded the area.

Backed Syrian Kurdish fighters on alert for Turkish attack
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group because of its links to the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey. It also envisions Kurdish YPG forces withdrawing from the town to the east of the Euphrates.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a statement on his official Facebook page shortly after the attack mourning the victims, vowing to continue the war against terrorism.

"I am mourning with deep sadness the martyrs who fell today at the hands of traitors who are trying to harm the tightly-knit fabric of the nation", Sisi said.

Assailants reportedly used side roads to reach the main highway and shoot at the buses, which were nearing the monastery.

Christians account for around 10 per cent of Egypt's predominantly Muslim population of about 100 million.

A year earlier, an Isil suicide bomber killed nearly 30 worshippers at a church in Cairo located in the Saint Mark's Cathedral complex, the seat of the Coptic papacy. The previous attack in May 2017 left almost 30 people dead.

The military offensive - Dubbed "Sinai 2018" - has killed more than 450 jihadists, according to an army estimate, while around 30 Egyptian soldiers have been killed during this year's operation.

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