Just last month, an Egyptian military court handed down death sentences to 17 people convicted in a series of fatal attacks on Christians throughout the country since December 2016.
The Coptic Orthodox Church and the Interior Ministry said Islamic militants on Friday ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims on their way to a remote desert monastery, killing seven and wounding 19. The previous attack in May past year left almost 30 people dead.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he mourned the victims as martyrs and vowed to forge ahead with a campaign against jihadists.
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"We remain steadfast in our support of Egypt's efforts to combat terrorism and violence against religious communities". "Because I could die if I go to church", said Michel, a 23-year-old Copt whose neighbour was killed in the attack.
May 26: Masked gunmen order Christians travelling to a desert monastery to get off their buses and recant their faith. More than 100 Copts have been killed in such attacks since 2011, according to The Associated Press news agency. "This attack will not weaken the will of our nation in continuing its battle to prevail and build", the president, who called Pope Tawadros II to express his condolences, added.
Mourners gather at Prince Tadros Church for the funeral of Coptic Christians who were killed in an attack, in Minya, Egypt November 3, 2018.
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Archbishop of Minya, Anba Makarious, said: "Terrorists opened fire on a tour bus from Sohag province, heading back from the monastery". Previous ones targeted churches packed with worshippers in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta in the Nile Delta north of the capital, leaving at least 100 people dead.
According to the Archbishop in Minya, the attack took place in nearly the same place as one by Islamist militants which killed 28 Christians in May 2017.
This follows attacks on dozens of churches, homes and businesses belonging to Copts after the bloody breaking up of two pro-Morsi gatherings in Cairo in August and with perceptions that Copts had backed his overthrow. They are the Middle East's largest Christian community and have long complained of persecution and insufficient protection.
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In Minya, the scene of Friday's attack, Christians constitute the highest percentage of the population - about 35 percent - of any Egyptian province.