Kids among 28 vic­tims of Egypt at­tack

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - WORLD - Magdy Sa­maan in Cairo and Raf Sanchez

AT least 28 peo­ple, in­clud­ing many chil­dren, were mas­sa­cred in Egypt yes­ter­day when gun­men am­bushed groups of Egyp­tian Chris­tians trav­el­ling along a desert road to­wards a re­mote monastery.

The killers lay in wait in the desert out­side the city of Minya and slaugh­tered the oc­cu­pants of at least three dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles as they drove to­wards the monastery of St Sa­muel the Con­fes­sor.

The masked gun­men sprayed bul­lets into a minibus car­ry­ing chil­dren from a church group, killing at least six of them, ac­cord­ing to Egyp­tian me­dia.

Chris­tian ac­tivists said the at­tack­ers had also boarded a bus and killed the men be­fore rob­bing the women of their jewellery and phones and leav­ing Is­lamist leaflets among the bod­ies.

Egypt’s in­te­rior min­istry said 28 peo­ple had been mur­dered in to­tal, but church of­fi­cials said they be­lieved the death toll might be sig­nif­i­cantly higher. An­other 22 peo­ple were wounded.

There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the massacre but sus­pi­cion will fall on the Egyp­tian arm of the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (Isil), which has car­ried out a se­ries of bloody at­tacks against Chris­tians.

Sui­cide bombers killed dozens in strikes on churches in April and De­cem­ber last year and hun­dreds of Chris- tians fled the Si­nai in March af­ter Isil be­gan a cam­paign of killings against them.

Egypt is home to about nine mil­lion Chris­tians – about 10% of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion – and an­a­lysts be­lieve Isil is tar­get­ing them partly out of re­li­gious ha­tred but also to fo­ment sec­tar­ian ten­sions.

“Groups like Isil have made it an ob­jec­tive to ex­ploit long-stand­ing ten­sions be­tween the Mus­lim com­mu­nity and the Chris­tian mi­nor­ity,” said Zack Gold­smith, an an­a­lyst with the At­lantic Coun­cil’s Rafik Hariri cen­tre.

Yes­ter­day, the gun­men trav­elled into the desert in pick-up trucks and re­port­edly am­bushed at least three dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles in quick suc­ces­sion be­fore flee­ing. Po­lice set up check­points and said they were hunt­ing for the killers.

One of the ve­hi­cles at­tacked was a minibus car­ry­ing chil­dren from the Church of the Vir­gin in Bani Sweif, a prov­ince to the north of Minya. “They opened fire ran­domly on all of its pas­sen­gers. Many chil­dren are among the dead,” Cop­tic church of­fi­cial Mikhail Ay­oub said.

Many mem­bers of one fam­ily had also been killed on a bus as they trav­elled from their home vil­lage to a bap­tism at the monastery, bus owner, Nabil Kamel Ab­del Shahid said.

A woman who was wounded on the bus said the killers had worn out­fits “like mil­i­tary uni­forms” and had their faces cov­ered. – The Daily Tele­graph.

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