At least 24 people were massacred in Egypt and dozens more injured Friday when masked gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians to a monastery, according to reports.
The group was traveling in two buses and a truck about 140 miles south of Cairo in Minya province, which is home to a large Christian minority, sources told Reuters.
“There are 24 dead,” Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told state television, adding that 27 people were wounded, Agence France-Presse reported.
The ministry said the victims had been heading to the St. Samuel Monastery when they were surrounded by eight to 10 attackers wearing military uniforms, the Independent reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which followed ISIS bombings that killed at least 46 people at churches in Tanta and Alexandria during Easter.
The Palm Sunday attacks prompted President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to declare a three-month state of emergency and promise to do whatever was necessary to confront jihadists.
Coptic Christians — who make up about 10 percent of the country’s 91 million — base their theology on the teachings of the apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt.
Most Copts live in Egypt, but the church has about a million members outside the country.
They have faced persecution and discrimination that has escalated since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights recorded 77 attacks on Copts in Minya province between 2011 and 2016, as well as many more incidents of vandalism at churches and schools, according to the Independent of the UK.
With Post wires