At least seven people were killed and seven injured in an attack Friday in Egypt, more than a year after a similar attack claimed by the islamic State (EI), against a bus transporting the faithful coptic christians. The victims were travelling aboard a bus that was targeted by shooting in the province of Minya, some 200 km south of Cairo, where they were doing a pilgrimage around the monastery of St. Samuel.

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According to State television, security forces were in pursuit of the perpetrators of the attack, claimed in the early evening by the islamic State through his propaganda organ Qama. “My condolences, with deep sadness, to the martyrs who fell today in the hands of traitors (…)”, wrote the president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Twitter. “I wish a speedy recovery to the injured, and I confirm our determination to continue to fight terrorism black and prosecute the perpetrators,” he added.

In may 2017, 28 pilgrims copts, including many children, had already been killed in Minya by armed men, while they were traveling to board a bus in the same area that the attack occurred on Friday. The AR had claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as a number of attacks of anti-christians has made a hundred dead since the end of 2016. The last deadly attack against the faithful coptic dates back to December 2017, when a jihadist of ie had killed nine people at a church in the southern suburbs of Cairo.

Target selection

The black series has hit the Copts since the end of 2016. In December 2016, a suicide bombing, claimed by the AES, on a church in Cairo, adjacent to the St. Mark’s cathedral, seat of the pope of the coptic orthodox Church Tawadros II, had caused the deaths of 29 people. In may 2017, the EI also claims the attack against the bus carrying pilgrims, similar to the one this Friday. Masked men had ordered the christians to get off the bus and renounce their faith, before the run. Egypt had then responded to this attack by air strikes against camps the jihadists in neighboring Libya.

In April, two other attacks of the ARS, which were perpetrated by suicide bombers against two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, leaving 45 dead. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had declared a State of emergency. It has been constantly renewed since then. Moreover, under the threat of extremists, dozens of families of copts have fled in February, the region buckled in the North-Sinai, the scene of an insurrection of the AR.

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The extremists have regularly attacked security forces, particularly since the army deposed islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed in five years of fighting in a region completely closed and totally inaccessible to the press. In February 2018, the army launched a major offensive against the jihadists in the Sinai. In October, it was claimed in this operation, a balance sheet of more than 450 jihadists killed.

The coptic community is the christian community the most important and the oldest in the Middle East, with about 10% of the 100 million Egyptians. The Copts represent a target of choice for the jihadists of the EI and of the islamist extremists. The latter accuse them of supporting president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after the latter, the then head of the army, was dismissed in 2013, the muslim Brother, Mohamed Morsi, was elected head of the State a year earlier.