Egypt's Authorities Apprehend Suspects in Probe Into Attack on Coptic Christians

Egypt's Authorities Apprehend Suspects in Probe Into Attack on Coptic Christians

The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for shooting dead 29 Christians on a bus in central Egypt, an attack that prompted retaliatory air strikes on militants in neighbouring Libya.

The attack comes as the country is still under a three-month state of emergency period following twin attacks on Coptic churches on Palm Sunday last month that killed dozens of people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the fourth to target Christians since December, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group.

The statement from the military spokesman did not specify precisely where the strikes were conducted.

In response, Egyptian President el-Sisi ordered air strikes against terrorist bases in eastern Libya that were linked to Al Qaeda.

Video interviews with survivors of a deadly attack by Islamic militants on a bus taking Egyptian Christians to a remote desert monastery are painting a picture of untold horror, with children hiding under their seats to escape gunfire.

No one has yet claimed credit for Friday's attacks, but both the previous attacks were claimed by the Sinai terror group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem).

Among the 52 killed yesterday's clashes which centred on the southern district of Abu Slim, said Hashem Bichr, a security official of the Government of National Accord, were 17 members of pro-GNA forces who had been "executed". In December, a suicide bomber struck a church in Cairo, killing 29 Copts.

But many Copts complain that the Egyptian authorities are not doing enough to protect them, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo.

The latest attack drew global condemnation.

The bus was heading toward the Monastery of St. Samuel on a road near El Edwa city, about 140 miles south of Cairo, when the shooting started.

The attack comes at the beginning of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month.

The interior ministry said at least 26 people were killed and 25 wounded in the attack.

Similarly the UK's Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who earlier this month had hosted Egypt's Coptic Orthodox leader Pope Tawadros, said he was "heartbroken by the news of another bad attack on men, women, and children, murdered due to their faith in Jesus Christ".

Sisi said that recent attacks were aimed at making people believe that Christians are not secure in Egypt, and that the government is not protecting them.

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