At least 28 Egyptian Christians have been killed and many others wounded after armed men attacked them as they travelled to a monastery in the country’s Minya province.
The Coptic Christians were on their way to Saint Samuel Monastery found in the outskirts of Minya city, 220 kilometers south of Cairo. The masked attackers approached them in three pickups and opened fire after which they flew the scene.
Speaking to the Associate Press news agency, Egyptian security officials said that 28 people have died, majority of who are children.
No group has so far come out to claim responsibility for the attack.
Bus splashed with bullets
The bus’s photos shown on state television indicated how badly it was destroyed by the bullets, particularly the windows.
Essam el-Bedawi, Minya’s governor, said that the attackers appeared to have used automatic weapons.
Police have launched manhunt for the perpetuators, having established several checkpoints and patrols in the desert road.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s immediate response to the attack was calling for a crisis session with his security officials.
The Christian community makes up a minority of Egypt, about 10 percent, and has from time and again been the target of armed groups.
Experts told NBC News last month that the violence leveled against them was “the worst it has ever been.”
According to Steven Cook, the Egyptian Christians are facing their worst discrimination at this time than it has ever been before. The country easily ranks one of the worst places the Copts can be.
ISIS has in the past claimed responsibility for two attacks targeted on churches that saw the death of 44 people. Security officials at that time said that the terrorists bombed a cell killing 30 people just next to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral.
ISIS on the Run
The U.S. military supports Iraq and Syria forces to fight against ISIS, a group that is since fleeing to Egypt and attempting to create a footing by destabilizing the country’s fragile democracy.
Pope Francis made a trip to the country in April where he condoled the persecuted families and then made efforts to stitch up relationships between Muslims and other religions.
But immediately the pontiff left, ISIS vowed that it would escalate attacks and hinder any attempted Western influence. Intelligence shows that the group has plans to attack Western embassies and the Christian population.
Timothy Kaldas, of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, sad that today’s attack indicates a plan to execute its heinous campaign. He added that ISIS has a “great deal of sectarianism in their ideology, and have targeted people based on their faith.”