ISIS Claims Responsibility for Attack on Egypt's Coptic Christians

Frederick Owens
June 5, 2017

Islamic State said it carried out the attack - the latest in a series against Coptic Christians that has seen more than 100 people killed since December.

The Islamic State's Amaq news agency said in a statement the group took responsibility for the attack on "crusaders", claiming 31 were killed, and another 24 were wounded.

Hours after the Friday's attack, Egypt's air force launched six strikes over its western border, targeting jihadist training camps in the Libyan port city of Derna, which is controlled by jihadists close to Al-Qaeda.

The attack was carried out by 12-15 armed militants who could be involved in the deadly explosions at Egypt's Coptic Orthodox churches on April 9, which left dozens of people killed, the newspaper noted.

In December a year ago, an attack on a Coptic church in Cairo killed 25 people.

Coptic Christians, which make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million, have been under increasing attack from radical Muslims over the past several months. This gave the government near dictatorial powers that could easily be abused, but they didn't prevent Friday's terror attack on Coptic Christians.

A source in Haftar's Libyan National Army told Reuters that they had coordinated with Egyptian counterparts to strike ammunition stores belonging to the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council, an Islamist umbrella group that opposes Islamic State.

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"The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed", Sisi said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made the remarks on Saturday during a meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Leading thousands of people in prayer for the victims at the Vatican on Sunday, he said that they died in "another act of ferocious violence" after refusing to renounce their faith.

IS said that its militants attacked Christians when they were traveling to Saint Samuel monastery in Egypt.

For the second day in a row, Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Egypt's Coptic Christians following an attack on a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to a remote desert monastery. U.S. President Donald Trump also vowed to crush "evil organizations of terror".

Coptic churches and homes have been set on fire, members of the Coptic minority have been physically attacked, and their property has been looted, rights group Amnesty International reported in March.

Minya governor Essam al-Bedawi said security forces had arrived at the scene and were fanning out along the road to the monastery and setting up checkpoints.

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