Egypt launches airstrikes on Libya ji­hadist camps

New Straits Times - - World -

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

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