Islamic State claims responsibility for Egypt attack

Mr El-Sissi told Pope Towadros II, the pope of the Coptic Church in Egypt, in a phone call on Friday that the state would not rest easy until the perpetrators of the attack were punished.

He also addressed US President Donald Trump, saying: "You have said that your priority is to confront terrorism, and I trust you are capable of doing that".

Gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery in central Egypt on Friday, killing at least 29 people and wounding 24, with many children among the victims.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the April attacks.

The Egyptian military has carried out several airstrikes against purported terrorist training camps in Libya after unknown gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, leaving at least 28 dead.

"Either we get retribution or die like them", some chanted.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq media wing, according to the Site Intelligence Group, a terror monitoring group.

On Friday President Trump condemned the attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christians, denouncing the "thuggish ideology" and "evil organizations of terror".

"This merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls", he said.

The World Council of Churches appeals to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, to religious leaders and to governments across the region "to act swiftly and boldly to safeguard the fundamental religious rights of all faiths, to ensure security in the face of violence and to guarantee justice for all people".

After a visit to Egypt last month by Pope Francis, IS vowed to escalate attacks against Christians and urged Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and Western embassies.

The military published footage of the strikes but declined to say where they took place.

Two suicide bombings at Palm Sunday services at churches in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta on 9 April left 46 people dead.

Copts make up about 10% of Egypt's population of 92 million.

But it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State, which has been spearheading an insurgency that has carried out deadly attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and, increasingly, on the country's mainland. The deadly blasts prompted Sisi to declare a three-month state of emergency.

  • Leroy Wright