MINYA (Reuters) – Egyptian Christians buried six members of the same family on Saturday who were shot dead while returning from a baptism at a Coptic monastery in Egypt’s Minya province.
Two buses were attacked on Friday near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Minya, 260 km up the Nile from Cairo. Seven people were killed and 18 wounded, including children.
The attack was claimed by Islamic State which, along with affiliated groups, has said it was responsible for several attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority, including one that killed 28 people in almost the same spot in May 2017.
There had, however, been a lull in attacks on Christians since December, when a gunman killed 11 people at a church and Christian-owned shop near Cairo.
Although Egypt’s army and police launched a crackdown on the militant groups in February, some of the Christian mourners said security should be tighter.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he mourned the victims as martyrs and vowed to push ahead with the campaign.
“There is a mix of sadness and pain,” Bishop Macarius, head of the Coptic diocese in Minya, told mourners at Prince Tadros Church, tears streaming down his face. “Sadness as these painful events are being repeated, and pain because Copts are part of this homeland and part of its fabric.”
Mourners spilled out of the pews screaming, sobbing and praying over six white coffins, and rejecting the condolences of members of the security services.
The Copts, an Orthodox denomination who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s more than 90 million inhabitants, are the Middle East’s largest Christian community. They have long complained of persecution and insufficient protection.
At Saturday’s funeral, the congregation shouted out when Mr Macarius thanked police and soldiers for their support, chanting: “No, no … with blood and soul, we will defend you, oh cross!”
The government pledged 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,600) in compensation to the families of the dead, and 50,000 to those who needed extended medical treatment, the state news agency MENA said.