23 killed and 25 injured in Egypt gun attack

For years, Islamic militants have been waging an insurgency mostly centered in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, though a growing number of attacks have recently also taken place on the mainland. A bombing at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral in December 2016 also killed at least 25 people and wounded 49.

Unknown gunmen have attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt, leaving dozens of causalities.

During the trip, Francis paid tribute to the victims of the December bombing in Cairo's St. Peter's church, located in close proximity to Cairo's St. Mark's cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Tawadros II says that since 2013 there were 37 sectarian attacks on Christians in Egypt, almost one incident a month.

The assailants sprayed the bus headed for Saint Samuel monastery in Minya province with gunfire before fleeing, provincial governor Essam el-Bedawi told state television.

Gaza has suffered increasing hardship under Hamas' rule, which triggered a border blockade by both Egypt and Israel.

Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.

Coptic Christians have faced persecution and discrimination in Egypt, which has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011.

The Islamic State group affiliate in Egypt releases a video vowing to step up attacks against the Christian minority, describing them as their "favorite prey".

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the shooting.

Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists.

The Health Ministry said that among those injured were two children aged two.

The government is likely to tighten security around churches, monasteries, schools and annual pilgrimages to remote Christian sites across the country.

Twin bombings by suicide bombers hit churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months. Attacks on Christian homes, businesses and churches subsequently surged, especially in the country's south, traditionally Egypt's Christian heartland. They rallied behind el-Sissi, the general-turned-president, in 2013 when he ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the state of emergency was failing to prevent attacks.

  • Leroy Wright