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Gunmen open fire on bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt

Date of publication: 2 November, 2018

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Several people have been reported dead and wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Christian pilgrims travelling to a remote desert monastery.

At least seven Coptic Christians were killed, and dozens more injured on Friday when gunmen opened fire on their bus in central Egypt.

The bus was heading towards the Saint Samuel Coptic Christian monastery near Minya, a city about 270 kilometres south of the capital, Cairo.

The archbishop of Minya told Reuters news agency that at least seven people were killed and 14 wounded in the attack.

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

Copts, a Christian minority, make up 10 percent of Egypt's 96 million people.

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.

The extremist group previously killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April 2017 and a month later shot dead almost 30 Christians in the Minya province as they headed to a monastery on a bus.

In December 2017 an IS militant killed nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.

In February 2018, the Egyptian army launched a major offensive against IS in the Sinai Peninsula, where the group has maintained a strong presence since the fall of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Dubbed "Sinai 2018", the military campaign has killed more than 450 extremists, according to the army.

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