Death toll in Upper Egypt armed attack on Copts reaches 29

Ahram Online , Saturday 27 May 2017

Daesh group claimed responsibility on Saturday for the deadly attack on Coptic Christians in Minya that left 29 dead on Friday

Relatives of killed Coptic Christians grieve during the funeral at Abu Garnous Cathedral in the north Minya town of Maghagha, on May 26, 2017. (AFP)

The number of Christians killed in an armed attack on buses carrying pilgrims in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate has risen to 29, said Egypt's Cabinet in a statement published by MENA late Friday.

Thousands of Christians, weeping and praying, gathered at the church of the Sacred Family in the village of Dayr Jarnous in Maghagha in Minya governorate late Friday, in a funeral service for seven of the victims of the attack.

Their grief quickly turned to anger as funeral prayers at the Church became a protest march with young men chanting as they carried a large wooden cross, Reuters reported.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in a televised speech following the terrorist attack on Christians in Minya Friday morning that an airstrike against a terrorist training camp was being carried out as he spoke.

He added that, "Egypt will not hesitate in striking any camps that harbour or train terrorist elements whether inside Egypt or outside Egypt," adding that Friday's attack, which saw 29 Copts killed by armed gunmen, will not pass easily.

El-Sisi said that a strike was being launched targeting a camp that had been a source of terrorists who had carried out attacks in Egypt, without specifying its location.

The Egyptian armed forces released a short video that was shown on state television after El-Sisi's speech. The voiceover said that upon the directions of the president, the airforce had carried out a strike against terrorist gatherings in Libya "after confirming their involvement in planning and committing the terrorist attack in Minya governorate on Friday."

Following El-Sisi's speech, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail underlined the unity of the Egyptian social fabric, in a short press conference at Mahad Nasser Hospital in Cairo, adding that "all Egyptians are targeted without exception."

Ismail said that the blood let is Egyptian blood, confirming the importance of collaboration against terrorism.

Earlier, Health Minister Ahmed Emad El-Din said that of 11 left injured at Mahad Nasser Hospital, nine were in a stable condition after surgery, while two were set to have surgery Saturday.

Emad El-Din referred to two other injuries in Minya Hospital, with one set to be transferred to Galaa Military Hospital in Cairo, while the rest of the injured were treated and discharged from hospital.

Twenty-nine Christians were killed and 23 injured in the armed attack on buses carrying them to a St Samuel’s Monastery in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate Friday morning.

The interior ministry said in an official statement that unknown assailants driving three 4x4 trucks attacked by "firing randomly" at the bus carrying Coptic citizens. 

The ages of the victims ranged from children to citizens over 60, the bishop of Minya told Egypt's TV channel DMC. Only three children survived the attack, a source from the church told Al-Ahram.

Arab and Western countries have denounced the attack, expressing their solidarity with Egypt against terrorism.

No group has yet claimed the Minya attack, which is the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Egypt’s Christians.

On 9 April, two suicide bombers targeted St George's Church in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, killing and injuring dozens in the deadliest attack against civilians in the country's recent history. A total of 29 people died in the Tanta explosion and 18 in Alexandria.

Cairo imposed a nationwide three-month state of emergency after the April bombings, with the option to extend for another three months dependent on a parliament vote.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million.

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