Coptic Christian attack: Funerals in Egypt for seven murdered pilgrims

Egypt attack on bus bound for Coptic monastery kills seven

Angry Coptic Christians on Saturday buried relatives shot dead on a bus carrying pilgrims south of the Egyptian capital, as security was tightened after the second such militants attack on the country's main religious minority in as many years.

Although Egypt's army and police launched a crackdown on the militant groups in February, some of the Christian mourners blamed security lapses for repeated attacks against them.

Gunmen opened fire on Friday on two buses near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Minya, 260 km (160 miles) up the River Nile from Cairo, killing seven people and wounding another 18, including children. The previous attack in May a year ago left almost 30 people dead.

The Egyptian group linked to the self-styled " Islamic State" (IS) had previously called for attacks on Coptic Christians.

"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", President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi said in a statement on Friday obtained by the Washington Post.

Coptic Christians have been repeatedly targeted by terrorists. "Because I could die if I go to church", said Michel, a 23-year-old Copt whose neighbour was killed in the attack. He had earlier said the bus was approaching the monastery.

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The US Embassy in Cairo and the German Ambassador to Egypt also strongly condemned the attack and reaffirmed support to Egypt and its people against terrorism.

Egypt's Christians account for some 10 percent of the country's 100 million people.

Outside Egypt, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the archbishop of Britain's Coptic Orthodox Church were among those condemning the attack and expressing condolences to Egyptians.

The public prosecutor said a team of investigators has been dispatched to the scene of the attack to investigate.

In December 2017 an IS militant killed nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb. It's also in Minya where most acts of violence, like attacks on churches and Christian homes and businesses take place. They have long complained of persecution and insufficient protection. Local church officials in Minya province put the death toll at 10, but the higher figure could not be confirmed.

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