Masked gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians in southern Egypt on Friday, killing 26 people and wounding 26 others as they were driving to a monastery, medical sources and eyewitnesses said. The group was traveling in two buses and a small truck in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority, the sources said.
Provincial governor Essam al-Bedaiwy said earlier that 23 people had been killed and 25 wounded. Eyewitnesses said the Copts were attacked as they were going to pray at the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the western part of the province.
They said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire. Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months.
In April, dozens of people were killed in two separate bombings on churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday ceremonies.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the April attacks. A bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed over 25 people and wounded 49 in December 2016, including many women and children.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s attack. A reporter for the Al Arabiya television network said the attack began at 8.45am local time, when ten masked men in military fatigues boarded the bus and began shooting.
With Reuters inputs