Gunmen attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt Friday, killing at least 26 people and wounding 25 others, according to state media reports. The terror attack in central Egypt is the latest in a series targeting the country’s persecuted minority, and it comes during a three-month state of emergency declared in April.
The bus was carrying worshippers, many of them children, to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor when gunmen opened fire in a stretch of open, unmonitored road. They also fired on a pickup truck. The terrorists “shot people point-blank,” Bishop Makarios of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Minya Province told the New York Times.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but ISIS has repeatedly targeted the religious minority, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
On December 11, a bomb exploded in the main Coptic cathedral in Alexandria, killing at least 25 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing and released a video, vowing to step up their attacks on Egyptian Christians. In February, dozens of families left their homes in northern Sinai due to killings and intimidation. Then, on April 9, Palm Sunday, bombs ripped through two Coptic churches, killing at least 49 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack, too.
After the Palm Sunday attacks, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency. The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, has vocally supported Sisi’s government for its promise of security and stability. Security is indeed a central platform of Sisi’s government, yet Egypt has faced numerous bombings and terror attacks in the past several months alone.
Sisi has complained that the media has given too much attention to these attacks. The Egyptian government has cracked down on media outlets in recent months, blocking access to sites Al Jazeera, Mada Masr, and 19 others for coverage it deems unfairly critical.
Extremist terrorist organizations aren’t the only group targeting Egypt’s Copts. They’ve been historically persecuted and scapegoated by the Egyptian state.