The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Friday with the attack of unidentified militants on a bus carrying Egyptian Coptic Christians. At least twenty-six people were killed and many others wounded in the terror attack.
Passengers were en route to St. Samuel the Confessor, a monastery in the city of Minya (located roughly 150 miles south of Cairo), when the gunmen ambushed the bus, according to Egypt’s Al-Masriya. Three SUVs reportedly pulled alongside the bus and sprayed ammunition into the bus. CNN reports that some fifty ambulances are on the scene to deal with the carnage. Egypt’s Al-Ahram reports that there were as many as 40 children on the bus. Church officials fear the death toll is even higher than reported, saying some 35 Copts were killed in the ambush.
Photos of the deadly assault’s aftermath have emerged on social media.
— Joumana Gebara (@JoumanaGebara) May 26, 2017
— JAAG TV (@JaagAlerts) May 26, 2017
Just three days ago, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo warned about a potential terror threat.
As of now, no group has taken immediate credit for the killings. The murderers reportedly wore masks and were dressed in military uniforms. However, the Islamic State has repeatedly attacked Copts in past months.
In April, ISIS jihadis carried out two major suicide bombings on Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta, Egypt, leaving 46 dead.
In December, ISIS terrorists targeted Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, killing 29 and injuring 49 more.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has pledged to fiercely combat radical Islam, has called his security cabinet into an emergency meeting, state media reports.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population. Minya province, where the attack occurred, has the highest concentration of Copts throughout Egypt. Though their religion and their entry into Egypt predate Islam, Copts are brutally persecuted by the nation’s Islamist groups, which include the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State, among others.
Every year, there is a noticeable increase in the number of Islamic terror attacks during the month of Ramadan, when practicing Muslims fast every day from morning to sunset. Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to the religion. Groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda use Ramadan to call for acts of terrorism against Westerners, Jews and Christians, and other non-Islamic groups