ISIS claims responsibility for attack on Egyptian Christians

Thousands of Christian mourners prepared on Saturday to bury six members of the same family who were killed while returning from a baptism at a Coptic monastery in Egypt's Minya province.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but militants linked to ISIS have regularly targeted Christians.

The Coptic Orthodox Church and the Interior Ministry said Islamic militants on Friday ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery, killing seven and wounding 19.

Another 18 people, including children, were wounded in the most serious attack on the minority in more than a year.

Islamic State and affiliated groups have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Christians, including one that killed 28 people in nearly the same spot in May 2017.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he mourned the victims as martyrs, and vowed to push ahead with a campaign against militants.

- January 1: A blast kills 23 and wounds 79, mostly Christians, as they leave a Coptic church after New Year's mass in Alexandria. Earlier Friday, the church television channel had said 10 people were killed.

Last month, the Egyptian military sentenced 17 people to death for suicide bombings at churches claimed by IS and 29 others were given long jail sentences. "This attack will not weaken the will of our nation in continuing its battle to prevail and build", the president, who called Pope Tawadros II to express his condolences, added.

Egypt's Christians, who account for some 10 percent of the country's 100 million people, complain of discrimination in the Muslim majority country.

On Saturday, el-Sissi is to open the World Youth Forum in the Sharm El Sheikh resort in Sinai, which has also seen deadly militant attacks.

It is the second attack on pilgrims heading to the St Samuel the Confessor monastery in as many years.

There had, however, been a lull in attacks on Christians since December, when a gunman killed 11 people at a church and Christian-owned shop near Cairo. The source said authorities were still searching for the attackers. It's also in Minya where most acts of violence, like attacks on churches and Christian homes and businesses take place.

The US State Department condemned the attack in a statement Friday.

  • Rogelio Becker