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Homeland Security

Masked Terrorists Kill Coptic Christians on Bus in Egypt

By Edward Yeranian May 26, 2017

More than two dozen Coptic Christian pilgrims traveling to a monastery in the south of Egypt were killed Friday when suspected Islamic militants opened fire on a stopped passenger bus.

Women wailed as family members of the victims gathered outside the Magaga hospital in the southern Egyptian town of Minya, close to where the terror attack took place Friday morning.

Egyptian media said the victims were pilgrims who were on a journey to the Monastery of the Prophet Samuel, revered and visited by Coptic Christians across Egypt.

A female survivor told Egyptian TV from her hospital bed that the bus, carrying approximately 40 people, was ambushed by armed men.

Video on Egyptian media showed a passenger bus which appeared to have its windows blown out by gunfire.

Coptic sources said the masked gunmen opened fire at the bus at close range after forcing it to come to a stop. Other sources claimed that the gunmen entered the bus, seeking to kill survivors.

Emergency meeting called

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi called an emergency meeting of his security cabinet immediately after reports of the attack. Sissi recently denounced Islamic terror groups and those that support them during a summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh attended by U.S. President Donald Trump and leaders of close to 50 other Arab and Islamic states.

Coptic Christians have been targeted in a number of recent terror attacks across Egypt, including two suicide attacks on Coptic churches in the Nile Delta town of Tanta and the port city of Alexandria. Nearly 50 people were killed in those attacks.

A suicide bomber also blew himself up in the main Coptic Christian cathedral of Saint Mark's in Cairo last December.

Beit al-Maqdis group suspected

Terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula have systematically targeted Christians in the port town of Arishe, killing them with gunshots and in some cases burning their bodies. Many Copts have fled the Sinai for towns on the other side of the Suez Canal.

Terror researcher Maher Feghali told Egyptian TV that the attackers were probably from the group calling itself Beit al-Maqdis – now describing itself an affiliate of the Islamic State group – which he says has supporters in the Sinai, as well as the region of Minya, where the Friday attack took place.

Feghali says that terrorists with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood usually attack only Egyptian police and security forces, while terrorists belonging to the so-called Beit al-Maqdis group have frequently attacked Coptic Christians. He adds that these terrorists have bases both in the Sinai and in the south of Libya. He says they use little-traveled desert roads to go back and forth between the area around Minya.

Terrorists in the same region also targeted Coptic Christians during an Islamic insurgency in the 1990s. Islamic terror groups have been trying to foment a sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians, so far without success.



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