At least seven Coptic Christians were killed and 12 more injured in Egypt when a bus traveling to a desert monastery south of Cairo was ambushed by Islamic militants who opened fire, Egyptian authorities said on Friday.
The bus was traveling to the St. Samuel the Confessor monastery November 2, when a number of attackers approached the vehicle from nearby dirt roads and opened fire.
A spokesperson for the Coptic Orthodox Church said that the number of fatalities is “likely” to increase. A church official in the province of Minya, where the attack happened, said that a total of 10 people had been killed. The Associated Press, which reported the story, was not able to confirm this number.
No specific group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s shooting attack. However, the ambush is very similar to an attack in May 2017, which also involved a bus heading to visit the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor. That attack which killed 29 people and left 22 injured, was eventually claimed by the Islamic State.
Last year, Egypt’s Coptic Christians have suffered numerous attacks by Islamic militants after ISIS issued a call to target the country’s Christians in February 2017. In addition to the bus massacre in Minya in May of that year, 45 people were killed and over 125 were injured in two separate bombings of Coptic churches on Palm Sunday.
In December 2017, 11 people were shot and killed in an Islamist attack on a church in the city of Helwan.
About 10 percent of Egypt’s population are Christian, the vast majority of whom are Coptic Orthodox.
In April of 2017, following the Palm Sunday bombings, Pope Francis traveled to Cairo and appeared in public with the Coptic Pope Tawadros II and other religious figures. Pope Francis honored various Coptic martyrs during this visit, and declared that the sufferings of the Copts “are also our sufferings.”