Just hours before the beginning of Ramadan, gunmen have killed 26 Coptic Christians on pilgrimage to a monastery in Upper Egypt.
Most of the victims were children:
— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 26, 2017
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) May 26, 2017
The Associated Press reports:
Masked militants riding in three SUVs opened fire Friday on a bus packed with Coptic Christians, including children, south of the Egyptian capital, killing at least 28 people and wounding 22, the Interior Ministry said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the fourth to target Christians since December, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group. The attack came on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The assault happened while the bus was traveling on a side road in the desert leading to the remote monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha, in Minya governorate, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) south of Cairo where Christians account for more than 35 percent of the population, the highest ratio in any province.
Security officials quoted witnesses as saying they saw between eight and 10 attackers dressed in military uniforms and wearing masks. The victims were en route from the nearby province of Beni Suef to visit the monastery.
Security and medical officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters, said the death toll stood at 28 but feared it could rise. According to Copts United news portal, only three children survived the attack. It was not immediately known how many of the victims were children.
The images from the scene are horrific:
— George Thomas (@GTReporting) May 26, 2017
Muslim Brotherhood supporters are already cheering the attack:
Disgusting post by Muslim Brother: Christians must reconcile w/Muslims "or their blood will continue to run like rivers & nobody will care" pic.twitter.com/Ao7DAYvm3h
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) May 26, 2017
While one U.S.-based Muslim Brotherhood supporter is promoting conspiracy theories:
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) May 26, 2017
This is the fourth mass attack targeting the Coptic Christian community since December.
Just a few weeks ago, I reported exclusively for PJ Media at the scene of the Two Saints Church suicide bombing in Cairo that killed 29 — all but one victim were women and girls:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 9, 2017
We covered that bombing:
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) December 11, 2016
Cairo Cathedral Bombing Killing 25 During Church Service Fits a Familiar Pattern https://t.co/Xc9ODRGSoj
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) December 11, 2016
Four victims would die in the weeks following that attack, raising the total number of dead to 29.
Two suicide attacks targeting Coptic churches killed 49 during Palm Sunday services last month. The church bombing in Alexandria that day targeted Coptic Pope Tawadros, who was not injured in the blast:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 9, 2017
As I reported, Egyptian security thwarted another attack on a monastery in Upper Egypt:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 12, 2017
Coptic Christians in Sinai have been targeted as well, with hundreds fleeing across the Suez Canal:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 25, 2017
And the year began with the murder of a Christian shopkeeper in Alexandria, who had his throat slit by an Islamist for selling alcohol:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) January 3, 2017
There have been a number of killings targeting Coptic Christians this year:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 14, 2017
The attack today will most likely be claimed by the Islamic State, which conducted the three church suicide bombings since December, and threatened more attacks:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 19, 2017
As I noted here a few weeks ago, former Homeland Security Senior Fellow Mohamed Elibiary responded to those Islamic State threats by stating on his Twitter that the Coptic Christians deserved to be targeted:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 8, 2017
It wasn’t a mistake — these are sentiments he has expressed before:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) June 25, 2016
Homeland Security Adviser Mohamed Elibiary Goes on Hate-Filled Anti-Christian Rant, Attacks Jindal as ‘Bottom Feeder’ http://t.co/raCO7MNKS0
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) January 29, 2015
With hours before the beginning of Ramadan, Egypt’s besieged Coptic Christian community is targeted again.
Lord have mercy.