Egypt Coptic Christians Killed In Bus Attack

Egyptian officials said attackers who massacred Christians near a monastery had trained in militant camps in Libya which it targeted with air strikes, after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

The interior ministry said masked gunmen in three pick-up trucks had attacked the bus as it heading for Saint Samuel monastery in Minya province, more than 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Cairo, before fleeing.

The statement did not specify precisely where the airstrikes were conducted but state TV said the jihadist training camps were hit in the eastern Libyan city of Derna.

In December and April suicide attacks against Coptic Churches left dozens killed.

According to Egyptian media, at least 29 people were killed, including 10 children.

Two military sources told Reuters that three additional air raids were launched on Saturday morning in the area of Derna, a city where east Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar, a close ally of Egypt, has been trying to gain control from extremists and other opponents.

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.

Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, the province where the attack took place, said the assailants told Christian men they ordered off the bus they would spare their lives if they converted to Islam.

El-Sissi, in his televised address, said of the US president: "I direct my appeal to President Trump: I trust you, your word and your ability to make fighting global terror your primary task".

The government is fighting insurgents affiliated to Islamic State who have killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the Sinai peninsula, while also carrying out attacks elsewhere in the country.

Relatives of killed Coptic Christians look on as they gather during the funeral at Abu Garnous Cathedral in the north Minya town of Maghagha, on May 26, 2017.

One survivor, a small boy who seemed to be about six, said his mother pushed him under her seat and covered him with a bag. "Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror bases anywhere", President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in a televised address to the nation late Friday.

The attack, which has not been claimed by any group, follows several recent attacks on Egypt's Christian community by the Islamic State.

Egypt's Copts are vocal supporters of Sisi, who has vowed to crush Islamist extremism and protect Christians. This is the fourth such attack on Coptic Christians since December.

  • Leroy Wright