(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)
The Minya governor, Maj. Gen. Essam el-Bedewey, said at least 28 people were killed and at least 25 were wounded when the attackers fired on the bus heading for the St. Samuel Monastery, one of several pilgrimage sites in an area that is home to a large portion of Egypt’s Christian population.
The Reuters news agency and other reports said children were among the dead.
A member of the region’s security department, Maj. Mohamed Abdel-Moneim, told reporters that about 10 men wearing military-style gear carried out the attack.
Last month, twin bomb blasts rocked churches in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and the northern city of Tanta, leaving 44 dead and prompting Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, to declare a state of emergency.
After the latest attack, Sissi called an emergency meeting of security officials, state-run media reported.
In late April, Pope Francis visited Egypt as part of Vatican outreach to Egypt’s embattled Christians, whose community dates back to the early centuries of the faith. But the papal trip also brought denunciations from Islamist militants and warnings of further reprisals.
In December, a bomb hit the main cathedral in Cairo, killing 25 people as part of what is being described as a new strategy by the Islamic State to target Christians.
“The state is doing its best, but we need more efforts,” Minya’s Coptic Bishop Makarios told The Washington Post. “They [security forces] are always present and on guard after the attack takes place, and keep their security measures tightened for a short while after. . . . What we need is real effort exerted to ensure this is not repeated, not just solidarity and compassion.”
Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.