(JNS.org) Masked terrorists opened fire on vehicles that were carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt Friday, killing at least 26 people, local Christian officials said.
According to Bishop Makarios of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt’s Minya Province, the terrorist shooters opened fire on a truck carrying workers as well as two buses transporting worshippers as they traveled in a convoy to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, The New York Times reported.
While no organizations have claimed responsibility for the attack, the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State terror group has been behind a number of recent attacks on Coptic Christians. On Palm Sunday April 9, two Islamic State suicide bombings killed a combined 45 people at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt. In February, Islamic State targeted a small Christian community in the northern Sinai, forcing hundreds to flee after a series of attacks on homes and businesses. Last December, an Islamic State bombing ripped through a chapel near St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, killing 25 people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office condemned Friday’s attack, saying, “There is no difference between the terror of the attack in Egypt and that of attacks in other countries. Terror will be defeated more quickly if all countries work together against it.”
“We call on the international community to join in condemnation not only in word but also by deed by helping the government of Egypt fight this scourge of terrorism,” said Stephen M. Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, adding that the coordinating body for 50 national Jewish groups “stands in solidarity with the government of Egypt, the Egyptian people and in particular the members of the Coptic community, during this difficult time.”
In late April, Pope Francis visited Egypt and expressed solidarity with the country’s beleaguered Christian minority. The pope strongly backed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s crackdown on Islamic extremism.
“Egypt, in the days of Joseph, saved other peoples from famine; today it is called to save this beloved region from a famine of love and fraternity,” Pope Francis said during the visit. “It is called to condemn and vanquish all violence and terrorism.”