At least seven killed in attack on Coptic Christian bus in Egypt

At least seven killed in attack on Coptic Christian bus in Egypt

Several people have been reported dead and wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Christian pilgrims travelling to a remote desert monastery.

Gunmen killed at least seven Christians who were returning from baptizing a child at a Coptic monastery in Egypt on Friday, officials said - the most serious attack on the minority in more than a year.

Egypt has been waging a major military and security campaign, mainly in Sinai but also on the border with Libya, to crush militants behind a wave of attacks on security forces and civilians, including Christians.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said, "I wish the wounded a quick recovery and confirm our determination to continue our efforts to fight the darkness of terrorism and pursue the criminals".

The remains of a auto reportedly used by gunmen in the November 2 attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians.

In a somber message of his own, Tawadros said in a video clip released by the church that the latest attack would only make the Christians stronger.

Assailants reportedly used side roads to reach the main highway and shoot at the buses, which were nearing the monastery. More than 100 Copts have been killed in such attacks since 2011, according to The Associated Press news agency.

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Church spokesman Bouls Halim said the death toll in Friday's attack, in the Minya governorate south of Cairo, is likely to rise.

Under heavy guard by masked security personnel on Saturday, hundreds of angry Copts gathered in and around Minya's Prince Tadros church from dawn for the funeral of six victims.

Egypt's Christians account for some 10 percent of the country's 100 million people.

The attack previous year was the latest in a deadly series that targeted churches in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta north of the capital.

"This attack will not weaken the will of our nation in continuing its battle to prevail and build", El-Sisi said.

The attacks led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and Church-linked facilities, where metal detectors and armed police are routinely deployed.

Egypt's highest Muslim institution, Al Azhar, condemned the "cowardly terrorist attack" on Friday evening in an official statement in which is lambasted the perpetrators for a lack of "basic human values" and the "killing of of the innocent".