Seven killed in attack on Coptic Christian bus in Egypt

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The attack on the bus took place near a monastery. (Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church via AP)
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The pilgrims were on their way to the St. Samuel the Confessor monastery when they were attacked. (Wikipedia Commons)
Updated 03 November 2018
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Seven killed in attack on Coptic Christian bus in Egypt

  • President El-Sisi vows to continue fight against militants in the country
  • The pilgrims were on their way to a remote desert monastery south of the Egyptian capital in Minya province

CAIRO: Seven people were killed and 20 wounded on Friday when gunmen opened fire on three buses carrying Coptic Christians.

The attack took place near the remote desert monastery of St Samuel in Minya province.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi offered condolences for the victims and vowed to push ahead with a campaign to crush militants in the country.

"I wish a speedy recovery to the injured and assert our determination to fight dark terrorism and to pursue the perpetrators," El-Sisi said.

Security forces rushed to the scene and ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals nearby, a security source told Arab News.

Coptic Orthodox Church spokesman Bouls Halim said the death toll in the attack was likely to rise, AP reported.

Egypt's Coptic priest Agathon speaks to a woman at the Sheikh Fadel hospital where she was being treated for her injuries in the attack. (AFP)

Daesh, which has carried out similar attacks, said it was behind the massacre. The extremist militants have been fighting security forces in the Sinai Peninsula and along Egypt's border with Libya.

The attack was widely condemned, including by Saudi Arabia, which said it stood by Egypt against acts of terror and offered condolences to the victims' families.

Friday’s attack is the second to target pilgrims vsiting the St Samuel monastery in as many years. A Daesh attack on a bus convoy in Minya in May 2017 killed at least 29 people.

A security source told Arab News that the gunmen attacked the bus on side roads leading to the monastery after the main route had been closed by police for security reasons since the 2017 attack. Communications networks in the area had also been disrupted for the same reason.

Al-Adwa, Beni Mazar and Maghagha hospitals declared a state of emergency as they treated the injured.

A spokesman for the monastery, Peter Lahami, said there were people with very serious injuries and that the death toll could increase.

Another church source said the bus had come from Margarijs in Sohag. 

Coptic expert Robier Al-Faris said that after Egypt’s major security operation in Sinai to clear militants from the peninsula, some of the extremists had spread south to continue attacks.

The Egyptian security forces have recently carried out several raids on militant targets, training camps and support centers in Upper Egypt. 

Last week, 11 extremists from the mountainous area of Dashlout-Farafra in Assiut province were killed.

A week before, nine militants were killed in a mountain cave in a remote area of Assiut.

The attack last year was the latest in a deadly series that targeted churches in Cairo,  Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta

Those attacks, all claimed by Daesh, killed at least 100 people and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and other Church-linked facilities.


US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria. (US Army photo)
Updated 22 February 2019
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US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

  • The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON: The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday.
President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there.
But he has been under pressure from some advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.
The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
A White House statement said that the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”
They noted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford would be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks, the White House said.