Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pope says more Christian martyrs today than in ancient times


The bus was travelling to the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor, 135km (85 miles) south of Cairo, from Minya province when it came under fire.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq media wing, according to the Site Intelligence Group, a terror monitoring group.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi blamed the attack on suspected Islamic State group extremists in Libya.

Egypt responded to Friday's attack by launching a series of airstrikes that targeted what it said were militant bases in eastern Libya in which the assailants were trained. There were reportedly a total of six strikes carried out following the Minya attack.

He said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country.

Addressing US President Donald Trump, Mr Sisi said: "You have said that your priority is to confront terrorism, and I trust you are capable of doing that".

The air force loyal to Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, on Saturday said it had participated in the strikes, describing them as "heavy in casualties". "Bishop Makarios, who has previously criticized the government for similar security failures, praised the government's response to Friday's attack".

Arab TV stations showed images of a bus riddled with bullet holes, with many of its windows shattered and bloodstains on the seats. State television quoted a health ministry official as saying a "large number" of the victims were children. Meanwhile, forces loyal to Libya's unity government said on Saturday that 52 of its fighters were killed as they repelled rival militias in fierce clashes in Tripoli.

IS claimed all the bombings and threatened more attacks on the Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 90-million population.

Nazarbayev condoles with Afghanistan over deadly blast in Kabul
Pakistan condemned the "terrorist attack in Kabul this morning that has caused loss of precious human lives and injuries to many". No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, although the Taliban has denied involvement.

The funerals of some of the victims were held on Friday night. Nearby, a dozen women in dusty black robes cried and moaned.

Following the Palm Sunday bombings, Sisi declared a nationwide three-month state of emergency.

The attack drew immediate condemnation from Israel. It happened on the eve of the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month of fasting that commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammed according to Islamic faith.

Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Egypt's Coptic Christians, calling those massacred in an attack on a bus carrying pilgrims "martyrs".

He said the attack will not pass easily.

Israel "strongly condemns the painful terror attack in Egypt and sends the condolences of the Israeli people to [Egyptian] President [Abdel-Fattah] Sissi and to the Egyptian people", a Friday statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

In December, a suicide bomber struck a church in Cairo, killing 29 Copts.

Sinai Province, the name of the local affiliate of IS in Egypt, is seeking to impose a hardline interpretation of Islam in the country.

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