Attack on buses of Coptic Christians in Egypt leaves 7 dead

Attack on buses of Coptic Christians in Egypt leaves 7 dead

Attack on buses of Coptic Christians in Egypt leaves 7 dead

At least seven Coptic Christians were killed Friday when gunmen opened fire on their bus in central Egypt, said the province's bishop told AFP. It has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks on Christians dating back to December 2016. Local church officials in Minya province where the attack took place, put the death toll at 10, but the higher figure could not be confirmed.

Egypt says fighting Islamist militants is a priority to restore security after the years of turmoil that followed the "Arab Spring" protests.

The Egyptian group linked to the self-styled " Islamic State" (IS) had previously called for attacks on Coptic Christians.

Last May, a gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in a similar attack to Friday's in the same Minya province.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered his support to the victims in a statement on Twitter.

The Coptic Church in a statement released the names of the seven "martyrs" - including two women - who died in the attack. The previous attack in May 2017 left almost 30 people dead.

The attack past year was the latest in a deadly series that targeted churches in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta north of the capital.

According to the Archbishop in Minya, the attack took place in nearly the same place as one by Islamist militants which killed 28 Christians in May 2017. One of the buses carried 28 members of the same family who were attending the church for a baptism. The source said authorities were still searching for the attackers.

ISIL has repeatedly targeted Copts, a Christian minority that make up about 10 percent of Egypt's estimated 99 million people, in recent years. It's also in Minya where most acts of violence, like attacks on churches and Christian homes and businesses, take place.

Friday's attack comes at a time when the church is still reeling from the July killing inside another desert monastery of its abbot.

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