Militants of the Islamic State massacred 13 Christians in Minya, Egypt, opening fire Friday on busloads of pilgrims traveling to the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor.
The jihadists fired upon three buses, ultimately blocking two of them while the third escaped. The gunmen ordered everyone to get out of the buses and then began shooting them in cold blood, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported Saturday.
Among those slaughtered by the militants were at least three children and seven women.
The Islamic State terror group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which mimicked a similar attack against Egyptian Christians en route to the same pilgrimage site in May, 2017.
The Associated Press (AP) said the attack would probably “cast a dark shadow” over the World Youth Forum, one of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s showpieces that opens Saturday in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
On Saturday, hundreds of Christians gathered in Minya for the funeral of six victims, five of whom were members of the same family.
Commenting on the drama, the Coptic-Catholic bishop of Asyut Kyrillos William claimed that terrorists in Egypt “want to destabilize the state,” reinforcing the belief that terrorism cannot be suppressed. They are saying that “we are still here and we are still active,” the prelate added.
By their own admission, the Islamic State’s attacks on Egypt’s Christians are intended as a punishment for Coptic support of el-Sissi. It was el-Sissi who led the military’s 2013 uprising that deposed an Islamist president, whose one-year rule had been divisive.
As Agence France Presse (AFP) reported in July, Islamist violence against Egypt’s Christian community, one of the largest and oldest groups of Christians in the Middle East, “has escalated at an alarming rate.”
Between May and July, jihadists carried out at least a dozen attacks on Christians in Egypt, with little effective response from the government.
“It is escalating in a very short time,” said Mina Thabet, program director for minorities and vulnerable groups with the Egyptian Commission of Rights and Freedoms.
On Friday evening, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi condemned the attack, which “will not affect the will of our country in continuing the battle for survival and construction.”
“We confirm our determination to continue our efforts to combat terrorism,” el-Sissi said in a statement.
Cairo’s Al-Azhar University also denounced Friday’s attack, saying the perpetrators were “criminals devoid of the fundamental values of humanity, far from the teachings of religions that appeal to coexistence and peace, to renouncing violence and condemning the killing of innocent.”
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