At least 26 people killed, including children, as masked gunmen 'dressed in military uniforms' open fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians to pray at a monastery in Egypt

  • Ten masked gunmen opened fire on buses carrying Coptic Christians  in Egypt
  • At least 26 killed and more injured when attackers sprayed bullets at the convoy  
  • Worshippers were heading to St Samuel Monastery to pray when gunmen struck
  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for recent deadly attacks on churches in Egypt
  • At least 26 people including children are dead and dozens more injured after masked gunmen opened fire on buses carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt, it has emerged.

    Up to 10 masked attackers dressed in military uniforms stopped a convoy in Minya province, 140 miles south of Cairo, as the group was heading towards Saint Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Maghagha to pray.

    The gunmen, who arrived in three four-wheel drive vehicles, used automatic weapons to spray bullets at their victims before fleeing. Only three of the children travelling with the worshippers survived, local media claimed.


    The group was travelling in a convoy of two buses and a truck from the nearby province of Bani Suief when the mass shooting happened. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.


    It comes after ISIS claimed responsibility for three deadly church attacks in December and April that claimed the lives of dozens of people. 

    The jihadists threatened more attacks against the Arab country's Christians, who make up around 10 per cent of its population of about 90 million.


    Khaled Mogahed, the Health Ministry spokesman, said that the death toll reached 26 but feared it could rise further. 

    Arab TV stations showed images of a damaged bus along a roadside, many of its windows shattered. Ambulances were parked around it as bodies lay on the ground, covered with black plastic sheets.

    Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.

    The grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt's 1,000-year-old centre of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilise the country. 

    'I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism,' Ahmed al-Tayeb said from Germany, where he was on a visit.


    President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called a meeting of security officials, the state news agency said.

    Egypt has been fighting ISIS militants who have waged an insurgency, mainly focused in the volatile north of the Sinai Peninsula but there have been also attacks on the mainland.

    The country has seen a wave of attacks on its Christians, including twin suicide bombings in April and another attack in December on a Cairo church that left over 75 people dead and scores wounded. ISIS in Egypt claimed responsibility for them and vowed more attacks.

    Late last month Pope Francis visited Egypt in part to show his support for the Christians of this Muslim majority Arab nation who have been increasingly targeted by Islamic militants.

    During the trip, Francis paid tribute to the victims of the December bombing at Cairo's St. Peter's church, which is located in close proximity to the St. Mark's cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church.


    Following the pope's visit, the ISIS affiliate in Egypt vowed to escalate attacks against Christians, urging Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and western embassies as they are targets of their group's militants.

    Egypt's Copts, the Middle East's largest Christian community, have repeatedly complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at hands of the country's majority Muslim population.

    Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists. 

    They rallied behind general-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in 2013 when he ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group. 

    Attacks on Christian homes, businesses and churches subsequently surged, especially in the country's south. 

    Source: Daily Mail