Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi sent fighter planes to Libya retaliate against an attack in Egypt on a caravan of Coptic Christians.
On the eve of the Islamic month of Ramadan, masked gunmen targeted a bus and other vehicles of Copts travelling to a monastery in central Egypt, killing 28 people including a number of children.
Gruesome footage of the attack emerged as heavily armed Egyptian special forces guarded officials gathering evidence amidst the vehicles riddled with bullet holes and covered in blood.
In response El-Sisi sent fighter planes to hit bases in Libya, which he said was where the Islamists who carried out the attack trained. Sources in Libya reported that the planes bombed the headquarters of the shura (advisory) council in Darna, where Islamists are identified with Al Qaeda.
Reuters reported that Muslim leaders in Egypt condemned the attack, with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the center of Sunni Islam, saying that the attack was meant to destabilize the country.
“I call on Egyptians to unite in the face of this brutal terrorism,” Ahmed al-Tayeb said from Germany, where he was visiting.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement issued from Italy where he was attending a G7 summit, “The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished. Terrorists are engaged in a war against civilization, and it is up to all who value life to confront and defeat this evil.”
The Coptic community has been the target of a stepped-up campaign against Christians by Islamists in Egypt. Since December, 70 members of the community were killed in church bombings by Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta.
Hundreds of Copts in the northern Sinai have fled after of a campaign of murders claimed the lives of many community members.
During the reign of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (who was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood), churches and Christians were routinely attacked.