Terrorists ambushed a Coptic church bus trip on Friday near Minya in Upper Egypt, killing at least 28 and injuring 23, including many children.
Egypt’s interior ministry reported that three 4×4 vehicles of 8 to 10 gunmen dressed in military uniforms opened fire on the vehicle, which was on its way to St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Samalout, 140 miles south of Cairo.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack—which occurred on the eve of Ramadan—follows church bombings claimed by the Islamic State on Palm Sunday and in advance of Christmas.
Last week, Egyptian authorities arrested 48 individuals, securing confessions of belonging to a terrorist cell linked to the Islamic State.
“I am grieving. It is sad and shocking,” said Bishop Thomas of the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Qusia, 75 miles from the monastery. “But at the same time, I know this is not new. I was expecting things like this to happen. And it will not be the last.”
Thomas described St. Samuel’s as a favorite location for Copts to visit in central Egypt. A desert monastery, it has a simplicity that attracts both spiritual pilgrimage and social outings.
The move to attack Coptic civilians outside of church services is a worrisome development. Thomas compared it to attacks perpetrated against Copts by militant groups in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He views the attacks as connected, and an effort to disturb Egyptian stability.
“As long as society is so much into fundamentalism and sectarianism,” said Thomas, “this atmosphere will bring more and more [attacks].”
Egypt canceled opening Ramadan celebrations as the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyib, condemned the attacks. …