Gunmen kill seven Christians on bus near Egyptian monastery: Officials

Representative image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

AFP Cairo, Egypt Nov 02, 2018, 09.28 PM (IST)

Gunmen killed at least seven Christians in an attack on a bus near a Coptic monastery in Egypt on Friday, authorities said - the most serious assault on the minority in more than a year.

The Islamic State group later in the day claimed responsibility for an attack against a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt that left seven people dead. 

"Those who carried out the ambush... in Minya are fighters of the Islamic State," the group's propaganda arm Amaq said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app. 

The attackers struck close to Saint Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya, 260 km (160 miles) up the River Nile from Cairo, the Archbishop of Minya, Anba Makarious, told Reuters.

The attack took place very close to the spot where gunmen killed 28 Christians in a similar assault in May 2017.

"Terrorists opened fire on a tour bus from Sohag province, heading back from the ... monastery," the archbishop said. He had earlier said the bus was approaching the monastery.

He said seven people were killed and 14 were wounded. State news agency MENA, citing a security source, put the number of injured at seven and said the bus was transporting Christians.

Local residents said the bus was part of a convoy.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he mourned the victims as martyrs and vowed to push ahead with a campaign against militants.

"I assert our determination to fight dark terrorism and to pursue the perpetrators," he said on Twitter.

Egypt has been waging a major military and security campaign, mainly in Sinai, but also on the border with Libya to crush militants behind a wave of attacks on security forces and civilians, including Christians.

Egypt says fighting Islamist militants is a priority to restore security after the years of turmoil that followed the "Arab Spring" protests in 2011.

Egypt's public prosecutor ordered an investigation and said her had sent a team of investigators to the location and to nearby hospitals.