Death toll in Egypt attack on Christians rises to 29

Claudine Rigal
Mai 29, 2017

The latest attack comes as Egypt remains under a three-month state of emergency following twin attacks on Coptic churches on Palm Sunday that killed dozens of people.

The Egyptian Cabinet said in a news release that 13 victims of Friday's attack remained hospitalized in Cairo and the southern province of Minya where the attack took place.

The Egyptian military today launched several airstrikes on militant training camps in Libya in response to an ISIS attack that killed 29 Coptic Christians, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowing that he would not hesitate in hitting camps that harbour or train terrorists.

Friday's attack, which killed children as well as men and women, is the latest major deadly assault against minority Christians in the Middle East's most populous country.

Image: Security guards stand near the site of an attack that killed at least 26 people in Minya, Egypt May 26, 2017.

The air force loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, on Saturday said it had participated in the strikes, describing them as "heavy in casualties".

"Terrorists are engaged in a war against civilisation, and it is up to all who value life to confront and defeat this evil", US President Donald Trump said in a statement.

Commending "the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty", the Pope also assured their grieving families and all who have been injured of his "ardent prayers" while pledging his "continued intercession for peace and reconciliation throughout the nation".

Another Egyptian Muslim leader, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, said in a statement that "neither Muslim nor Christian approves of the Minya incident, which targets stability in Egypt".

"I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism", Ahmed al-Tayeb said.

In certain local villages, the faithful celebrate Mass before a cross drawn on a wall, making it easy to erase quickly to avoid attacks.

Pope Francis, who had visited Egypt in April, sent a message to Sisi saying he was "deeply saddened to learn of the barbaric attack". Coptic Christians make up just 10 percent of Egypt's population. In December, a suicide bomber targeted a Cairo church.

Egypt's government has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an IS affiliate that is centered in the northern region of the Sinai peninsula, though attacks on the mainland have recently increased.

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