Cairo- A terrorist attack struck Egypt and its Coptic Christians again on Friday leaving 29 people, mostly children, dead and dozens injured when armed men intercepted a bus transporting Christians to the Saint Samuel monastery in Minya province.
An interior ministry official said that the assailants in three pick-up trucks opened fire randomly at the bus.
The attack, which comes a month and a half after suicide bombings at two Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta, is a sign on a change of tactics by terrorists.
ISIS on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack.
“A security detachment from ISIS carried out an attack yesterday in Minya, targeting a bus carrying Copts and taking the lives of 32 of them,” Amaq reported.
But Egypt’s prime minister said in a statement late Friday that the official death toll had risen to 29.
Minya is more than 200 kilometers south of Cairo.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a televised address, called on sanctioning countries “that back terrorism and supply it with weapons, funding and training.”
He said Egyptian forces had hit jihadist training camps in retaliation. Sisi did not specify which camps but state television said the strikes took place in the eastern Libyan city of Derna.
“Egypt will not hesitate in striking terror camps anywhere, either inside (the country) or outside it,” the president said.
Friday’s terrorist attack was widely condemned.
The grand imam of al-Azhar said the attack was intended to destabilize the country.
“I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism,” Ahmed al-Tayeb said from Germany, where he was on a visit.
“The Minya incident is unacceptable to Muslims and Christians and it targets Egypt’s stability,” he said in a statement.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million.
An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed Riyadh’s strong condemnation of the armed attack, said the Saudi state-run news agency SPA.
The official source reaffirmed the Kingdom’s solidarity with the Arab Republic of Egypt, underscoring the importance of joining international efforts to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and extremism.
Other Arab countries also condemned the attack, which came two days after the US embassy in Cairo issued a warning to its citizens.
The mission “is aware of a potential threat posted on a website by the Hassm Group, a known terrorist organization, suggesting some kind of unspecified action this evening. The Embassy has no further information about this potential threat, but is in contact with Egyptian authorities.”
“US citizens should continue to follow sound security practices,” it said.