Egypt: Terror Attack Against Christians Kills At least 8

From the Washington Post:
CAIRO — Gunmen said to be from the Islamic State opened fire on a bus carrying worshipers returning from a remote Coptic Christian monastery in upper Egypt on Friday, killing at least eight and wounding 13, said a top religious leader and local officials.

“Terrorists opened fire on a bus carrying people,” Coptic Christian Archbishop Makarious of Minya, a town roughly 150 miles south of Cairo, said in a phone interview. The pilgrims, said community leaders, were returning from a visit to Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery in a remote patch of Egypt’s western desert.

Six of those killed were from the same family, according to a post on the Facebook page of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt.

On Friday evening, Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate, which has vowed to target the nation’s minority Coptic Christians, claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news service. It was the first attack claimed by the militant group this year outside northern Sinai, where it is fighting Egyptian security forces. In a statement, the militants claimed that they had killed 13 and wounded 18, and that the attack was in response to the jailing of females they claim to be their supporters by the Egyptian government.

Friday’s violence comes more than a year after a similar assault on Christian pilgrims traveling to the same monastery. In May 2017, gunmen attacked buses carrying worshipers, leaving at least 28 people dead. Since December 2017, the last major assault on Christians, there has been a relative lull in the targeting of the Coptic community. Friday’s attack, many fear, could signal the launch of another deadly campaign by the Islamic State against Christians.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi on Friday sought to allay the concerns of a community that has staunchly supported him, even as they have been under attack by Islamist extremists for the past two years. Egyptian officials and analysts view the Islamic State's targeting of Christians as an effort to expand beyond their traditional theater of operations in the northern Sinai and foment religious divisions among Egyptians.

“I mourn with deep sorrow the martyrs who were killed today by treacherous hands which aim to undermine the solid fabric of the nation, and I wish speedy recovery for the injured,” Sissi said in a statement. “I confirm our determination to continue our efforts to combat dark terrorism and apprehend the culprits.”

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