World

Pope says Egyptian Copts Killed by IS Were 'Martyrs'

Pope says Egyptian Copts Killed by IS Were 'Martyrs'

Dozens of others were injured.

Egypt's relations with Sudan are now fraught with tension over a long-running border dispute, making it easier for Cairo to justify military action there.

So-called Islamic State (IS) has claimed it was behind an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt that killed at least 29 people and wounded about 25 others on Friday. The jihadists reportedly forced the victims walk out, and asked each of them, including the children, whether they were Christians.

This is the third major attack on Egypt's Coptic Christians in less than two months.

"Mindful in a particular way of those children who have lost their lives, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty". "Everyone who said "no" they shot".

But it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State, which has been spearheading an insurgency that has carried out deadly attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and, increasingly, on the country's mainland.




But the violence has now spilled over onto the mainland, with an increasing number of high-profile attacks, including a total of four that targeted Christians since December. A nationwide state of emergency has been in place since.

Sissi had promised Pope Towadros II, leader of the Coptic church in Egypt, that the government will not rest easy until the perpetrators of Friday's attack were punished.

"Let's not forget that today there are more Christian martyrs than in ancient times, than in the early day times of the church", he said. "They chose to die in the name of Christ". He told Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, "Your sufferings are also our sufferings". "We'll be reaching out to their family and the town grieves for their loss". The string of attacks has highlighted an ongoing vulnerability and a worrying lack of reliable intelligence by Egypt's robust security forces.

Rick McEdward, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters in the Middle East and North Africa, also expressed condolences to the families and people of Egypt.

Ashraf Sultan, Egyptian parliament spokesman, told Sky News Arabia, "This is an attack on the entire society and affects us all".

Some say the attack on Friday has undermined the Egyptian government's efforts to boost its security after the Palm Sunday bombings. "They asked the people still alive inside to leave the cross", he said. He also seems willing to sideline and disenfranchise nearly all Islamic groups with a political agenda, arguing that violent and peaceful Islamic groups feed off each other.


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