- By Robbie GramerRobbie Gramer is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. He writes for The Cable, FP’s real-time take on all things, well, foreign policy. Before he joined FP in 2016, he used to think in a tank, managing the NATO portfolio at the Atlantic Council for three years. He’s a graduate of American University’s School of International Service, where he studied international relations and European affairs. He has lived in both Washington and Brussels, though he grew up in Idaho and Oregon, so he’s a West Coaster at heart. When he’s not busy reporting, he’s probably busy starting three new books before he has finished the last one or planning a trip to a national park he hasn’t visited yet.
A group of masked gunmen opened fire on Coptic Christians in southern Egypt Friday, killing at least 26 and wounding 25.
As many as 10 attackers in three pickup trucks intercepted buses of Coptic Christians near the city of Minya, some 130 miles south of Cairo, and gunned them down before fleeing the scene. The victims were en route to the Saint Samuel Monastery in Minya province.
Egyptian Health Ministry Spokesman Khaled Mugahed told state television station al-Masriya that men, women, and children were among the dead and injured. Some of the injured are in critical condition.
Egyptian police and security forces immediately launched a manhunt for the attackers, setting up dozens of checkpoints along roads in the region.
No group immediately claimed credit for the attack, though the Islamic State terrorist group targeted Coptic Christians in a spate of deadly attacks in recent months. In April, suicide bombers attacked two separate churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, an important Christian holiday, leaving 45 dead and over 100 wounded.
The attack prompted Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi to declare the three-month state of emergency allowing authorities to search homes and arrest people without warrant. That sparked concern from international human rights groups, which claim Sisi used the state of emergency to crackdown on political opponents and dissidents.
After the April attack, Pope Francis visited Egypt to forge stronger Muslim-Christian ties and showcase the Vatican’s solidarity with Egypt’s minority Christian population.
Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s total population of some 91 million. They’ve faced increased persecution and violence since the Arab Spring protests forced the resignation of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Photo credit: MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images