The Ministry of Interior said Friday that unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic citizens on their way from Beni Suef to Saint Samuel Monastery in El Adwa city, Minya. According to the Ministry of Interior and Minya Governor Essam El-Bedewy, between 26 and 28 people were killed.
The shooting came less than two months after the Palm Sunday attacks and on the eve of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, pushing Muslim clerics and the Ministry of Religious Endowments to cancel any official celebration of Ramadan in solidarity with the victims.
The attack was reportedly carried out by eight to ten gunmen, media reports said.
There were conflicting reports on whether the gunmen had been dressed up as civilians or as the military. The Coptic Orthodox Church said the incident took place near Maghagha city.
In April, two churches were attacked on Palm Sunday by suicide bombers, killing over 40 Copts. One of the churches was in Alexandria, where Pope Tawadros II himself led mass.
In December, St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Cairo was also bombed during Sunday prayers. All three attacks had been claimed by the Islamic State (IS). IS has also claimed responsibility for the Minya shooting.
In response to Minya’s attack, Egypt said it targeted IS-affiliated camps in Libya, a strategy used in February 2015 following IS’ beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya. There were reportedly a total of six strikes carried out following the Minya attack.
The army spokesperson said Egypt’s military conducted an intensive airstrike against terrorists’ camps in Libya after ensuring their involvement in planning the Minya attacks.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a speech on Friday evening that “there will be strikes against militant camps inside and outside Egypt.” There was no further clarification given.
He also addressed US president Donald Trump in his speech, asserting his “confidence in Trump’s ability to fight terrorism,” to which Trump responded by stating that “America stands with Al-Sisi and the Egyptian people as we fight to defeat this common enemy.”