Editor’s note: This story is breaking news, and will be updated as additional information comes in from observers on the ground.
At least seven Christians have died and an additional 15 injured in Egypt today after a violent attack on a group of Members of an ethnic religious group from North Africa but primarily Egypt, where they are the largest Christian denomination in the country. pilgrims. The Christians were on their way to visit a desert monastery, when a group of masked gunmen stopped the bus and fired on it. The death toll is expected to rise.
Those injured in the attack were brought to three hospitals in the area, according to our sources on the ground in Egypt. Our field tells us that social media footage indicates a child is among the injured.
[Update 11:48 a.m. EDT] A source on the ground tells us that the attack was on two, church-owned buses. “The big bus belonged to a church in Sohag [a city in Egypt],” says Fr. Abanoub Shehata, a priest in Maghagha diocese, Minya.“The driver managed to escape the scene and no one in that bus got hurt. The second, smaller bus was from a village in Minya and did not manage to escape. Our field tells us that the bus was traveling from the monastery with family members of a baby who had just been baptized.
[Update 5:22 p.m. EDT] Islamic State, which has vowed to target Egypt’s Coptic Christians, has claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, the militants claimed they had killed 13 and wounded 18. Those numbers have not been confirmed.
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. That attack was horrific, leaving children like Marco and Mina without their father and Hanaa Youssef Mikhael without her husband.
[Update 1:50 p.m. EDT] Our field just shared this comment from Hanaa who expressed her grief and questioned how an attack like this could happen again only a year later. “Heaven received yet another group of martyrs,” she said, crying. “I am very sad about what happened. And I am startled: How is it possible that this happened again?”
The latest attack’s similarities have Egyptian Christians asking the same question.
“Why were they not protected?” asks Emad Nasif, a deacon in a church in Minya, a city nearby to the monastery.“There seems to be an indifference to the safety of the Christian minority [in Egypt].”
Today’s latest attack is another in a long list of attacks on the Coptic Christian community of Egypt, a traditional group of Christians that traces its roots back to St. Mark, the writer of Mark’s gospel in the Bible. Egypt is ranked No. 17 on the World Watch List, the annual list published by Open Doors that records the places most difficult to follow Jesus.
Please join your brothers and sisters in Egypt in prayer—and in grief. Pray for the families of the victims, for the Christian community in Egypt who has already endured so much violence and for God’s peace and the hope of Jesus will be poured out on His people.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:4-5)