Cairo (AFP) – On Friday Gunmen attacked a bus with Coptic Christians in central Egypt. In the recent attack on the religious minority, claimed by the Islamic State Group, seven people were killed.
The attackers opened the fire on the pilgrims' bus in Minya province after visiting a monastery, the local bishop told the AFP.
Bishop Makarios of Minya said the wounded had been taken to a hospital in Beni Mazar, about 200 kilometers south of Cairo.
The attack took place on the road from the Saint Samuel Monastery, he added, as the bus drove to Sohag.
A security source confirmed that seven people were killed in the attack and seven were injured.
The Islamic State group claimed the attack in a message through its propaganda agency Amaq.
"Those who ambushed Minya are fighters of the Islamic state," Amaq said in a statement to the Telegram app.
The Egyptian state television said security forces are still on the persecution of the attackers on Friday afternoon.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi supported the victims in a statement on Twitter.
"I sorrow deeply for the martyrs who have fallen today from traitors trying to damage the nation's dense fabric," Sisi said.
"I wish the wounded a speedy recovery and reaffirm our determination to continue our efforts in the fight against the darkness of terrorism and to persecute the criminals."
The Egyptian Public Prosecutor's Office announced it had received reports of "gun shots fired on a bus carrying a group of Copts who came from the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor".
– Copts hit by attacks –
Copts, a Christian minority that makes up 10 percent of the 96 million people in Egypt, have been repeatedly attacked in recent years by the jihadist group of the Islamic State.
IS killed more than 40 people in two massacres in April 2017, and a month later, 28 Christians killed in Minya province.
The Egyptian government imposed a nationwide state of emergency of three months following the April 2017 bombings.
In December 2017, an armed man killed nine people in an attack on a church in a southern suburb of Cairo.
A year earlier, an IS suicide bomber killed nearly 30 believers in a church in Cairo, located in the complex of St. Mark's Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic papacy.
The Egyptian Army launched a major offensive against IS in the Sinai Peninsula in February 2018, where the group has fought a deadly uprising since the fall of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
In addition to the attacks on the Copts, the jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers in Egypt in recent years, allegedly behind an attack in November 2017 against a mosque in northern Sinai, killing more than 300 people.
The military offensive – "Sinai 2018" – has killed more than 450 jihadists, according to army estimates, while this year's operation killed around 30 Egyptian soldiers.
The Egyptian authorities have also condemned jihadists for their role in attacks against Copts.
Last month, an Egyptian military court sentenced 17 people to death for suicide bombers against churches in 2016 and 2017.
Copts have long complained of discrimination in Egypt, and IS is not the only group that has launched sectarian attacks on the community.
In December 2017, hundreds of Muslims attacked a church south of Cairo, which had been operating for over a dozen years without a permit.