‘Today’s attack on a bus of Coptic Christian pilgrims in Minya, Egypt has again exacted a toll of civilian deaths and injuries. It is a stark reminder of the security challenges that Egypt is facing” – the European External Action Service spokesperson said.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. The European Union expresses its condolences to the bereaved, and stands side by side with Egypt in its efforts to defeat terrorism in the country” – she added.
Islamic radicals ambushed a bus carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery south of Cairo, killing at least seven and wounding 12, the Egypt Interior Ministry said.
Coptic Orthodox Church spokesman Bouls Halim said the death toll is likely to rise. Local church officials in Minya province where the attack took place informed about dead and seriously wounded, some injuries were not compatible with life.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, however it bore the hallmarks of Islamic State (ISIS) militants who have been fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula and along Egypt‘s porous desert border with Libya.
Minya province attack is the second to target pilgrims heading to the St. Samuel the Confessor monastery after previous raid in May 2017 left nearly 30 people dead.
The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said the attackers used secondary dirt roads to reach the bus carrying the pilgrims, who were near the monastery at the time of the attack. The attack last year was the latest in a deadly series that targeted churches in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta. Those attacks, all claimed by the Islamic State (Caliphate) militants, left at least a hundred dead and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship.
Egypt’s Christians, who account for some 10% of the country’s 100 million people, complain of discrimination in the Muslim majority country. The Coptic Church allied itself with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi when he, as defense minister, led the 2013 military overthrow of an Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.