Christians in Egypt prepare to bury dead a day after attack

Sign on road to the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Upper Egypt's Minya

In Minya, the scene of Friday's attack, Christians constitute the highest percentage of the population - about 35 percent - of any Egyptian province.

Coptic Christians have gathered in Egypt to take part in the funerals of a group of pilgrims killed by gunmen as they headed to a monastery on Friday.

Seven people were killed on Friday and at least 18 others wounded when attackers opened fire on the vehicles near the Monastery of St. Samuel in Minya, which was the target of a similar attack in 2017.

The seventh victim, an Anglican bus driver, was buried on Friday evening in a village outside Minya.

Security officials were searching for the gunmen responsible. It said the attack was revenge for the imprisonment by Egyptian authorities of "our chaste sisters", without elaborating.

Outside the main hospital in Minya, dozens of victims' family members waited until the early hours of Saturday to receive the bodies for burial. "I'll never see him again", she said. The archbishop of Minya told Reuters that 14 people sustained injuries in the attack.

"Should I carry a gun with me when I go to pray or when I'm at home?" In August, a would-be suicide bomb attack against Copts in Cairo was thwarted after the attacker's explosive device detonated en route to a Christian church, killing only himself.

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He said three of the victims had been siblings.

"What do these terrorists want?" They have also underlined the vulnerability of minority Christians in a country where many Muslims have since the 1970s grown religiously conservative and less tolerant of non-Muslims.

On Saturday, a burned-out four-wheel-drive truck, which witnesses said had been used by a group of militants in white galabiya gowns, stood near the site of the attack. The cathedral is the seat of Coptic Pope Tawadros II. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Those attacks, all claimed by IS, left at least 100 people dead and led to tighter security around Christian places of worship and other Church-linked facilities.

It is the first attack targeting the capital's Coptic community since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

The military offensive - Dubbed "Sinai 2018" - has killed more than 450 jihadists, while about 30 Egyptian soldiers have been killed during this year's operation.

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