Kids among 28 victims of Egypt attack
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.