Seven Killed in Attack on Coptic Christians Bus in Egypt

The Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Cairo’s Shubra al Kheima district was the target of a previous attack

A young boy grieves next to the coffins of his parents who were killed during a bus attack, during their funeral service at Ava Samuel desert monastery in Minya, Egypt, May 26, 2017.

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.

When attacked, the bus was driving along a side road to the monastery because the main road was closed after earlier security orders due to its desert location and lack of phone communication, it added. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The main road to the monastery has been closed according to security instructions as it is located in a unsafe zone in the desert, in addition to the unavailability of communication network in its surroundings, the source said, adding that the victims used sub-roads to reach the monastery.

Egypt is carrying out a significant security and military offensive, mainly in Sinai, also on the border with Libya, to defeat militants behind a series of attacks on security forces and civilians, including Christians.

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The attack took place close to where gunmen killed 28 Christians in a similar assault in May 2017.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he mourned the victims as martyrs, and vowed to push ahead with a campaign against militants. He expressed his deepest sorrow and assured his "determination to continue our efforts to combat terrorism and to pursue the perpetrators".

Initially, a spokesman for the Coptic Church, Boulis Halim, said that at least seven were killed and 14 injured in the attack.

ISIL has repeatedly targeted Copts, a Christian minority that make up about 10 percent of Egypt's estimated 99 million people, in recent years. In April 2017, two suicide bombings on Palm Sunday at two Coptic churches in Cairo killed at least 47.

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