World

Gunmen kill 26 Egyptian Christians in bus attack

CAIRO: Gunmen attacked two buses and a truck taking a group of Coptic Christians to a monastery in southern Egypt yesterday, killing 26 people and wounding 25 others, the Health Ministry said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said the unidentified gunmen had arrived in three four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Witnesses said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Minya province and opened fire.

Security forces launched a hunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints and patrols.

The grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt's 1,000-year-old centre of Islamic learning, said the attack was intended to destabilise the country. "I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism," Dr Ahmed al-Tayeb said from Germany, where he was on a visit.

Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's 92 million people, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for yesterday's attack.- REUTERS

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