Pope Francis offered prayers for the Christians who were massacred by militants of the Islamic State on Friday “just because they were Christians.”
Following his weekly Angelus prayer Sunday, the pope told the 20,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square that the dozen Coptic Christians had died for their faith, while invoking the Virgin Mary to bring solace to the victims’ families.
“I express my sorrow over the terrorist attack that struck the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt two days ago,” Francis said. “I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christians, and I ask Mary Most holy to console the families and the whole community.”
As Breitbart News reported Saturday, Islamic State jihadists opened fire Friday on busloads of Christian pilgrims traveling to the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Minya, Egypt.
The jihadists reportedly blocked two of the buses while the third escaped. The gunmen ordered everyone to get out of the buses and then began shooting them in cold blood, with the number of dead reportedly between 7 and 13, with many more injured.
Among those slaughtered by the militants were at least three children and seven women, reports stated.
On Sunday, the Egyptian interior ministry said that police had killed 19 Islamist militants believed to have been involved in Friday’s deadly assault.
The ministry statement said that police had pursued “fugitive terrorist elements” into the desert area west of Minya province where a shoot-out ensued in which the 19 reportedly died.
Along with the statement, the ministry posted images of bodies and a tent in which the militants were reported to have been hiding. They also showed guns, rifles and Islamic State propaganda next to the bodies.
On Saturday, funeral services were held for a number of the murdered Christians and news media reported that a number of people expressed their anger for the brutal attack.
“What do these terrorists want? Do they want us to hate Muslims?” said a 23-year-old man named Michel, who lost a neighbor in the attack.
“Should I carry a gun with me when I go to pray or when I’m at home? Because I could die if I go to church,” he said.
The Coptic-Catholic bishop of Asyut, Kyrillos William, claimed that Islamic 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.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said the attack would “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 Friday evening.
Shortly after the attack, the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the assault, which replicated a similar attack against Egyptian Christians en route to the same pilgrimage site in May, 2017.
That attack left 28 dead.
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