The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 29 Coptic Christian pilgrims traveling on a bus south of Cairo.

The militant-linked Amaq News Agency, carried the claim, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based group that tracks jihadist organizations and their online activities.

ChristiansMasked gunmen driving SUVs opened fire Friday on the caravan of Coptic Christians heading for the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in the Minya governorate about 130 miles south of Cairo.

The attack came days after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing in Manchester, England, that left 22 people dead, one as young as 8 years old.

Arab TV stations showed images of a bus riddled with bullet holes, with many of its windows shattered and bloodstains on the seats. Bodies lay on the ground, covered with black plastic sheets. Children could be heard screaming hysterically in the background.

The victims ranged in age from children to over 60, the bishop of Minya told the privately owned TV Channel DMC. The dead included two girls, ages 2 and 4, according to local officials. At least 23 people were injured.
In response, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said late Friday that Egyptian jets carried out airstrikes on a bases in Libya purportedly used by militants who carried out the killings.

The Egyptian armed forces also released a short video that said the strikes hit terrorist gatherings in Libya “after confirming their involvement in planning and committing the terrorist attack in Minya governorate on Friday,” according to Ahram Online.

The attack took place on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and is the latest in a series of deadly hits on Egypt’s Christians following a pair of suicide bombings on Palm Sunday. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s population of 92 million.

On April 9, bombers attacked St. George’s Cathedral in Tanta, killing 29 people, and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, killing 18.
Last month, Pope Francis visited Egypt in part to show his support for Christians living in the Muslim majority Arab nation who have been increasingly targeted by Islamic militants.

The Islamic State, in turn, vowed to increase its attacks on Christians and urged Muslims to avoid Christian gatherings and western embassies.

Source: usatoday