Egypt launches airstrikes on Libya jihadist camps
MINYA: Egypt launched six airstrikes on jihadist camps in Libya on Friday after masked gunmen attacked a bus of Coptic Christians south of the capital, killing at least 29 people.
Assailants in three pick-up trucks attacked the bus as it was heading for the Saint Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya province, more than 200km from Cairo, the Interior Ministry said.
It was the latest attack by the Islamic State group on Copts after the jihadists bombed three churches in December and April, killing dozens of Christians.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a televised address, said Egyptian forces had hit a jihadist training camp in retaliation.
State television reported six airstrikes against “terror camps in Libya”, specifying that jihadist training camps were hit in the eastern Libyan city of Derna. Witnesses there reported four strikes by a single aircraft.
A spokesman for the pro-alQaeda Majlis Mujahedeen Derna, which controls the city, said the Egyptian Air Force carried out eight raids with no casualties.
Addressing United States President Donald Trump, Sisi said: “You have said that your priority is to confront terrorism, and I trust you are capable of doing that.”
In a statement released in Washington, Trump said: “The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished.”
State television quoted a Health Ministry official as saying a “large number” of the victims were children.
After the attack, Pope Francis sent a message to Sisi saying he was “deeply saddened to learn of the barbaric attack, calling it a “senseless act of hatred”.
Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top religious authority, condemned the shooting on the eve of Ramadan.
“The Minya incident is unacceptable to Muslims and Christians and it targets Egypt’s stability,” Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb said.
Condemnation also poured in from Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Russia and France. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said the Eiffel Tower lights would go dark after midnight in solidarity, as also happened on Tuesday after the Manchester Arena attack. AFP