Egypt: Gunmen kill 7 driving to Coptic Christian monastery

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In May 2017, 29 people were killed in a similar attack in Minya.

Coptic Church spokesman Father Boulos Halim confirmed by phone to NBC News that seven were killed and an unconfirmed number of people injured.

The security officials said the attackers opened fire on the two buses carrying pilgrims from Bani Suef and Sohag provinces, also south of Cairo.

Egypt is carrying out a significant security and military offensive, mainly in Sinai, also on the border with Libya, to defeat militants behind a series of attacks on security forces and civilians, including Christians.

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The Islamic State group claimed the attack in a message via its propaganda agency Amaq.

Islamic militants have ambushed two buses carrying Christian pilgrims to a remote desert monastery south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo, killing seven and wounding up to 16, according to the Interior Ministry. It said the attack was revenge for the imprisonment by Egyptian authorities of "our chaste sisters".

"I mourn with great sorrow the victims who fell today at the traitorous hands that seek to undermine the nation's fabric", Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in a statement. But other attacks carried out by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) have been far more deadly.

Friday's assault marked the second attack on christians heading to the Saint Samuel monastery in as many years.

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"Terrorists attacked their bus on the way to (St) Samwil Monastery in Minya".

The Interior Ministry said police were pursuing the attackers, who fled the scene.

Several of the attacks have targeted Christians and churches.

Egypt's Coptic Christian minority, which makes up an estimated 10 percent of the population, has been a frequent target of attacks and persecution since the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

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