26 dead as gunmen fire on bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt

MINYA, Egypt — Twenty-six people were killed in Egypt after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians, according to state-run media.

The passengers were traveling Friday to a monastery, St. Samuel the Confessor, near the central city of Minya when they came under attack, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mugahed told TV al-Masriya.

He said 25 others were also injured as the gunmen fired from two cars on a desert road around 62 miles west of Minya. Fifty ambulances were the scene.

There were men, women and children among the dead and injured, Mugahed said, some of whom are now in critical condition.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the shooting.

Coptic Christians have faced persecution and discrimination in Egypt, which has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011. Dozens have been killed in sectarian violence.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 91 million. They base their theology on the teachings of the apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt.

The country is still under a three-month state of emergency period after twin attacks on Coptic churches in the country on Palm Sunday last month, in attacks claimed by ISIS.

In December, an attack on a Coptic church in Cairo killed 25 people.

Coptic churches and homes have been set on fire, members of the Coptic minority have been physically attacked, and their property has been looted, rights group Amnesty International reported in March.

A church in Minya was torched in 2013, gutting its interior.