Lethal attack on Egyptian Christians condemned by world churches body; ISIS claims responsibility

(REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)Egyptian Christians protest against the Coptic beheadings.

At least seven Christians have died and an additional 14 injured in Egypt after a violent attack on a group of Coptic pilgrims, which the extremist Islamic State claimed to have carried out.

The Christians were traveling back from a visit to a desert monastery, when the group of extremists fired on the bus, said OpenDoors,.

Gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt on Friday, killing seven in the latest assault on the religious minority claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group.

The attackers opened fire on the bus of pilgrims in Minya province after they had visited a monastery, Bishop Makarios of Minya told the AFP news agency, saying the wounded had been taken to a hospital in Beni Mazar, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Cairo.

The attack took place on the road back from the Saint Samuel monastery, he said, as the bus was heading to the city of Sohag.

"If this attack sounds familiar, that's because it mirrors an attack in 2017, when gunmen killed at least 28 people on a busload of Christians going to the same monastery," said Opendoors, which monitors the persecution of Christians worldwide.

"That attack was horrific, leaving children like Marco and Mina without their father and Hanaa Youssef Mikhael without her husband."

The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches at a meeting in Uppsala, Sweden, condemned the attack, as "yet another abhorrent example of the rising incidence of hate-crimes against people based on their religious identity."

The WCC said, "We denounce it in the strongest possible terms, and call for urgent political and social action - and theological reflection - in all contexts in which such crimes take place to counter the hate and intolerance on which they are based, and to promote respect for diversity, for human dignity and rights, and for freedom of religion or belief for all."

The Islamic State group claimed the attack in a message via its propaganda agency Am, AFP reported.

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

Egyptian State television said security forces were on Nov. 2 still in pursuit of the attackers.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered his support to the victims in a statement on Twitter.

"I am mourning with deep sadness the martyrs who fell today at the hands of traitors who are trying to harm the tightly-knit fabric of the nation," Sisi said.

"I wish the wounded a quick recovery and confirm our determination to continue our efforts to fight the darkness of terrorism and pursue the criminals."

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