05/26/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that multiple masked gunmen attacked a caravan of Coptic Christians traveling to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, Egypt. Minya province is approximately 140 miles south of Cairo.
Sources told ICC that two buses and two other vehicles were traveling from a village to the monastery to pray. Most of the passengers in the buses were children. The source also informed ICC that the caravan was “in front of the Abu Tartour plateau when 10 masked [militants] in four 4×4 vehicles intercepted [the caravan] …and opened fire.” The source continued, “[The attack] resulted in the death of 35, most of them kids and more than 25 are injured.” So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The precision and execution of this attack led the source to believe that “the militants carried out this attack very carefully; they knew the details of the trip and its time and ambushed the buses.”
In recent months, radical extremists have hunted Coptic Christians. In April 2017, ISIS suicide bombers killed approximately 70 Christians in two church bombings on Palm Sunday.
On May 6, a Coptic Christian, who ran away from El-Arish, was murdered after he returned to his barbershop. Four masked gunmen shot him, following the pattern established in the January and February murders of seven Coptic Christians.
In February 2017, hundreds of Christian families fled their homes in El-Arish, a city located in the Sinai Peninsula, after ISIS carried out a series of murders targeting Christians. Between January 30 and February 23, seven Christian men living in and around El-Arish were targeted and murdered by masked men. During the height of the killings, an ISIS affiliate in the Sinai region promised to eliminate the Christian minority, claiming that Egypt’s Christians were the group’s “favorite prey.”
On December 11, 2016, a suicide bomber attacked the small church of St. Peter and St. Paul, attached to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral located in Cairo. As a result of that attack, 25 Christians, mostly women and children, were killed.
Coptic Christians make up approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million. These constant attacks have created an atmosphere of insecurity and fear among Coptic Christians. President al-Sisi declared a state of emergency after the Palm Sunday bombings, but it has done little to curb the violence.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These attacks are blatant and targeted acts of persecution against Christians. Extremist groups, especially ISIS, have declared Christians to be their ‘favorite prey’ and seek to eliminate the Christian minority. The government must be more intentional about protecting vulnerable minorities and punishing the attackers. Continual support for displaced families is vital, whether it is food, housing, or medical care. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.”