Islamic State 'will not go unpunished' after claiming responsibility for Egypt attack

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his United States counterpart Rex Tillerson that the jihadists who attacked the Christian convoy had trained in Libyan militant camps.

In all, the four attacks - Friday's, two in April and one in December - killed at least 104, mostly Christian, people.

Twenty-six people have been killed in Egypt after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in what officials are calling a terror attack.

The attack comes as the country is still under a three-month state of emergency period following twin attacks on Coptic churches on Palm Sunday last month that killed dozens of people.

"The eagles of our nation returned following the successful execution of their tasks", the army said in a statement, referring to the Egyptian air force pilots who carried out the air strikes on militant training camps in the neighbouring country.

Egypt's said it conducted retaliatory air strikes on jihadi camps in the eastern Libyan city of Derna later on Friday.

In a statement on its spokesman's Facebook page, the Coptic Church called for "measures to be taken to prevent the dangers of those incidents that tarnish Egypt's image".

However, the extremist group was later chased from the city by local fighters and rival extremists.

Photo taken by mobile phone shows one of the buses attacked by gunmen in the Minya governorate, about 220 kilometers south of Cairo, Egypt, May 26, 2017.

President Donald Trump denounced the attack, saying in a statement: "The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished". In December, a suicide bomber struck a church in Cairo, killing 29 Copts.

The victims, many of them found were sprawled dead in the sand, appeared to have been forced to kneel before being shot in the head, Coptic priest Hedra Rashid said.

Egypt's Copts, the Middle East's largest Christian community, have repeatedly complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at hands of the country's majority Muslim population.

The attack was also condemned by UN General Secretary António Guterres, who termed the act as "heinous" and "cowardly". "Rel. minorities must be protected in Egypt and across the world".

The Copts follow the teaching of Apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt, according to St. Takla Church in Alexandria, the capital of Coptic Christianity.

Those attacks were claimed by Islamic State.

Following the pope's visit, IS vowed to escalate the attacks against Christians, urging Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and Western embassies, saying they are targets for the group's followers.

  • Carolyn Briggs