Ambush on bus carrying Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt leaves several dead

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Egyptian Christians buried six members of the same family on Saturday who were shot dead while returning from a baptism at a Coptic monastery in Egypt's Minya province.

The attack was claimed by Islamic State which, along with affiliated groups, has said it was responsible for several attacks on Egypt's Christian minority, including one that killed 28 people in nearly the same spot in May 2017.

Scores of people were killed and wounded in the terror attack in Upper Egypt's Minya Governorate.

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"I mourn with deep sorrow the martyrs who were killed today by treacherous hands which aim to undermine the solid fabric of the nation, and I wish speedy recovery for the injured", President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi said in a statement on Friday obtained by the Washington Post. "Because I could die if I go to church", said Michel, a 23-year-old Copt whose neighbour was killed in the attack.

Only pilgrims have been allowed on the main road leading to the monastery since last year's attack.

Church spokesperson Bouls Halim told The Associated Press news agency the death toll was likely to rise.

The group was heading to the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, located in the western desert.

Egypt's Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of its population, have come under attack by Islamist radicals several times over the past years.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Coptic Christians in Egypt have been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State group [IS] in recent years.

December 29: ISIS claim responsibility for a gun attack on a Coptic Christian bookshop and church in Cairo that killed nine people.

There were attacks on Coptic churches in Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta, north of the capital, in 2016 and 2017 despite a state of emergency imposed 18 months ago.

The attacks led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and Church-linked facilities, where metal detectors and armed police are routinely deployed.

"This latest attack shows that the anti-ISIS (IS) campaign has not yet succeeded in Egypt, despite obvious efforts by the authorities to tackle it in different parts of the country", said H. A. Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute in London.

We also highly value the high sense of consciousness of the Egyptian people in regards to the objectives of these terrorist groups against Egypt's security and stability.

Local church officials in Minya province where the attack took place put the death toll at 10, but the higher figure could not be confirmed.

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