The death toll in Friday's shooting attack against the Christian minority continues to climb. Egyptian authorities reported that at least 28 people, including "a large number of children," were killed in the attack and at least 25 others were injured. The Arab world strongly condemned the attack and many countries sent their condolences to Egypt.
According to reports by Arab networks, a squad of ten terrorists in military uniforms opened fire earlier today at a vehicle and two buses that was driving Coptic Christians to the Saint Samuel Monastery, located outside Minya city, about 220km south of Cairo. Earlier today, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for a small meeting of security officials to examine the implications of the attack. It was also reported that al-Sisi was monitoring the security situation in Egypt and ordered measures to be taken to treat the wounded.
Following Friday's attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office stated that Israel sends its condolences to the Egyptian people and to President al-Sisi.
"Israel strongly condemns the severe terrorist attack in Egypt and sends the condolences of the Israeli people to President el-Sisi and the Egyptian people.
"There is no difference between the terror of the attack in Egypt and that of attacks in other countries. Terror will be defeated more quickly if all countries work together against it," read the statement.
Saudi Arabia responded by saying that the kingdom stressed its support for Egypt in the fight against terrorism and that there was a need to strengthen international efforts to fight terrorism. "The UAE minister also condemned the attack, with the Saudi foreign minister saying that "the terrorist attack is a crime aimed at creating a civil war. We stand by Egypt and the Egyptian people against extremism and terrorism. "
Further condemnation came from Qatar, which severed relations with it after Egypt's "Arab Spring" coup. Qatar has expressed its condolences to the families of the victims and the dear Egyptian people and wished them a speedy recovery.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the incident "an ugly crime from which only Egypt's enemies are profiting." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also joined the line of condemnation and said that "the purpose of the attack is to ignite a civil war and harm Egyptian society." He further stated that Egypt would eventually defeat terrorism and conspiracies to undermine its unity and stability. Additional condemnations were also voiced by Hezbollah, the Arab League, Lebanon and Iraq, which called for cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Jordan's King Abdullah II sent a letter of condolences to Egypt's president in which he said that Jordan would work together with Egypt in the war on terrorism that is hurting Islam and humanity. "This is a cowardly act, and all the actions that these dark gangs carry out are far from the values of humanity and Semitic religions," he said in his letter.
The attack was also condemned by other countries such as Russia and Britain. The British ambassador to Egypt expressed his hope that "the terrorists will not succeed in spreading hatred" and said that he identifies with the victims of the attack.
The German government strongly condemned the attack, and German Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Martin Schaefer said that the State was "deeply saddened" by the incident and noted that a large conference was currently being held in Germany with the participation of the Protestant Church and the Coptic Church. "We are most explicitly condemning such attacks against believers, and we will cooperate with Egypt to ensure that such events do not occur again," stated Schaefer.
A source in the Coptic Church said on Friday that the journey of Christian believers to the monastery was actually an organized trip for 40 children, as the Egyptian Health Ministry confirmed that "a large number of children" were indeed killed in the attack. The county's security forces continue their efforts to capture the terrorist operatives who carried it out.
The Coptic Church issued a statement following the attack, in which it clarified that "violence and evil are trying to harm the heart of Egyptian unity," and expressed hope that steps will be taken to prevent further attacks. Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail expressed his condolences to the Coptic community in Egypt during a telephone conversation with the head of the church in Alexandria.
According to recent estimates in Egypt, the country currently has 8 million Copts, less than 10 percent of the Egyptian population of about 92 million. During the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and Muhammad Mursi, three years ago, the Copts had to face a wave of aggression against them. However, over the past year the Egyptian parliament has approved the law to build churches in the country, and the ruling regime provides the Copts with absolute freedom of worship.