Egyptian warplanes bomb targets in Libya after attack on Christians

Gunmen have attacked a group of Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 28 people and wounding 25 others, and many children were among the victims, Health Ministry officials said.

Assailants in three pick-up trucks attacked the bus as it was heading for the Saint Samuel Monastery in Minya province, more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Cairo, before fleeing, the interior ministry said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest directed at Egypt's increasingly embattled Christian minority following two church bombings last month that killed more than 45, also claimed by the group.

As George Washington University's Mokhtar Awad noted, the Islamic State believes that its anti-Christian terrorism will destabilize Egypt, much as its predecessor organization's attacks on Shiites in Iraq fomented instability in that country.

Prior to the army's announcement, Egypt's President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi has vowed to strike any training camp in Egypt or outside, where terrorists are trained on attacks against Egypt.

They expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Egypt, and wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured. Bodies lay on the ground, some covered with black plastic sheets.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va. said in a statement that he is once again "deeply saddened by news of violence against innocent people of faith".

Military sources told Reuters news agency that the militants targeted in Libya had been involved in the attack on Egyptian Christians earlier in the day.

Coptic Christians, which make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's 91 million population, have faced persecution in Egypt, which has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011. He declared a three-month state of emergency in the aftermath of church bombings in April. Egypt's Coptic Christians have emerged as a top target of IS.

Sisi also directly addressed US President Donald Trump, saying, "Your Excellency, I trust your ability to wage war on terrorism as your first priority, with the cooperation of the whole worldwide community, that should unite against terrorism".

Eyewitnesses said three vehicles were attacked.

About 70 have been killed in bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta since December.

Pope Francis, who visited Cairo a month ago, described the attack as a "senseless act of hatred".

  • Salvatore Jensen