Security tight ahead of funerals for Egyptian Christians killed by gunmen

Security tight ahead of funerals for Egyptian Christians killed by gunmen

Security tight ahead of funerals for Egyptian Christians killed by gunmen

Coptic Christian in the Egypt City of Minya prepared to bury their dead, a day after militants ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert.

The attack took place near the spot where gunmen killed 28 Christians in a similar assault in May 2017.

Friday's attack on two buses near the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya also left at least seven others wounded - including children, according to reports. Islamist militants have targeted Egypt's Coptic Christian minority repeatedly in recent years.

Egypt has been waging a major military and security campaign, mainly in Sinai but also on the border with Libya, to crush militants behind a wave of attacks on security forces and civilians, including Christians.

"There is a mix of sadness and pain; sadness as these painful events are being repeated and pain because Copts are part of this homeland and part of its fabric", Bishop Macarius, head of the Coptic diocese in Minya, told mourners at the Prince Tadros Church in Minya, tears streaming down his face.

The attackers then fled, a witness at the monastery said.

May 26: Masked gunmen order Christians travelling to a desert monastery to get off their buses and recant their faith.

Those attacks left at least 100 people dead and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and Church-linked facilities.

A suicide attack on 11 December 2016 on the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Church killed 29 in the heart of Cairo.

The attack was likely to cast a dark shadow on one of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's showpieces - the World Youth Forum - which opens Saturday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egypt's state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Friday quoted an unnamed security official from the Minya governorate who said the main road to the monastery had been closed to vehicles since last year's attack and that the bus attacked today had used an alternative route to reach the monastery.

Attacks against Coptic Christians, who account for 10% of the nation's population, have been on the rise since 2017.

This follows attacks on dozens of churches, homes and businesses belonging to Copts after the bloody breaking up of two pro-Morsi gatherings in Cairo in August and with perceptions that Copts had backed his overthrow. State news agency MENA, citing a security source, put the number of injured at seven and said the bus was transporting Christians. They have long complained of persecution and insufficient protection.

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