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Death toll rises in Egypt Coptic Christian bus attack

26 maggio 2017 | 16.43
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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The number of people killed in an attack on Friday by gunmen on three Coptic Christian buses in central Egypt rose to 26 and 25 people were injured in the attack, local media reported, citing Egypt's interior ministry.

The gunmen driving 4x4 vehicles opened fire on the buses on a desert road in Minya governorate as the Copts were travelling to pray at the Saint Samuel Monastery in the east of the province, the Al-Masry al-Youm daily reported.

Children and elderly people were among the victims, state-run Al-Ahram Online cited the bishop of Minya as telling Egypt's private-owned DMC television channel.

Many victims were children and only three survived the attack, Al-Ahram quoted a source from Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church as saying.

Egypt's health ministry earlier reported that 23 people had died and 25 were wounded in the ambush, Al-Masry al-Youm said.

The injured were taken to nearby by hospitals for first aid and will later be moved to Nasser hospital in Cairo, the official MENA news agency said, citing the health ministry.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, while it was condemned by Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the head of the Al-Azhar Mosque - the highest authority in Sunni Islam.

Egypt's president Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi called an emergency security meeting after the attack and ordered "all necessary measures" to be taken to arrest the gunmen.

The government imposed a nationwide three-month state of emergency after suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group killed 46 worshippers at churches in Egypt's northern cities of Tanta and Alexandria on 9 April - Palm Sunday.

Coptic Christians have repeatedly been targeted by armed groups and IS has claimed several attacks against the religious minority in Egypt in recent months.

IS also took credit for a deadly ambush at an Egyptian police checkpoint near the iconic Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai (photo) on 18 April - the group's first attack on a monastery, in which a policeman was killed and four were injured.

IS's Egyptian branch says Christians are its "favourite prey" and has vowed to carry out further attacks against them.

Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million and are among some 15 million Christians living in the Middle East today.

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