Masked gunmen on Friday attacked two buses and a truck carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt, killing more than 20 people and wounding dozens, according to officials.
The attackers arrived in three pick-up trucks and opened fire on the vehicles carrying visitors to the Saint Samuel Monastery in the Minya province, about 220km south of the capital, Cairo, before fleeing the scene.
Egyptian security and medical officials told the Associated Press news agency that the death toll in the shooting has risen to 28.
The fatalities include many children, AP reported.There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“They used automatic weapons,” Essam el-Bedawi, Minya governor, told state media.
Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols on the desert road.
Following the attack, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for a meeting with security officials.
Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about 10 percent of the country’s population, has repeatedly been targeted by armed groups.
In April, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in two separate suicide bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday ceremonies.
The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group.
Following the Palm Sunday bombings, Sisi declared a nationwide three-month state of emergency.
A bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December 2016, including many women and children.
In an interview with Al Jazeera from Cairo, Timothy Kaldas of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said it is likely that the attack on Friday was carried bout by ISIL.
He noted that in February ISIL had declared a campaign against the Christian population of Egypt.
“It is very possible that this is part of that campaign,” he said, adding that ISIL has a “great deal of sectarianism in their ideology, and have targeted people based on their faith.”
Kaldas also said ISIL is also “trying to undermine the credibility of the government” in Egypt.
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