At least 28 people were killed in Egypt after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in what officials are calling a terror attack. Ten assailants wearing fatigues and face masks fired on the passengers from three four-wheel drive vehicles on a desolate stretch of desert road, Egypt’s Interior Ministry told CNN.
A message sent through Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, said the pope was “saddened to learn of the barbaric attack in central Egypt and of the tragic loss of life and injury caused by this senseless act of hatred.” “Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this violent outrage,” – the message reads – “Mindful in a particular way of those children who have lost their lives, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty. He assures their grieving families and all who have been injured of his ardent prayers, and he pledges his continued intercession for peace and reconciliation throughout the nation.”
In an interview with Al Jazeera from Cairo, Timothy Kaldas, of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said Friday’s attack was in all probability carried out by ISIL, also known as ISIS. He noted that ISIL had declared in February the launch of a campaign against Egypt’s Christian population. “It is very possible that this is part of that campaign,” Kaldas said, adding that ISIL has a “great deal of sectarianism in their ideology, and have targeted people based on their faith.”