The Islamic State jihadist group on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack on a bus in central Egypt that killed dozens of Christians, its propaganda arm said.
“A security detachment from the Islamic State carried out an attack yesterday in Minya, targeting a bus carrying Copts and taking the lives of 32 of them,” Amaq reported.
Earlier on Saturday, Egyptian authorities increased the official death toll from the attack in Minya province to 29.
The Egyptian Cabinet said in a news release that 13 victims of Friday’s attack remained hospitalized in Cairo and the southern province of Minya where the attack took place. Authorities had previously said 28 were killed.
Hours after Friday’s attack, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced that Egypt had launched airstrikes against militant training bases in Libya.
Senior Egyptian officials said fighter jets targeted bases in eastern Libya of the Shura Council, an Islamist militia known to be linked to al-Qaida, not the Islamic State group. There was no immediate word on damage or casualties.
El-Sissi told Pope Tawadros II, the pope of the Coptic church in Egypt, in a phone call on Friday that the state would not rest easy until the perpetrators of the attack were punished.
El-Sissi declared a three-month state of emergency following the targeting of two churches north of Cairo on Palm Sunday. In December, a suicide bomber targeted a Cairo church. The three attacks, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility, left at least 75 people dead.
Friday morning attack on a convoy of pilgrims in Egypt that killed at least 28 people, many of them children, drew wide-spread condemnation in the region — from Israel to Hamas.
Egyptian security and medical officials said the death toll in the shooting by masked gunmen of a bus carrying Christians on their way to a remote desert monastery has risen to 28.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Israel “strongly condemns the painful terror attack in Egypt and sends the condolences of the Israeli people to [Egyptian] President [Abdel-Fattah] Sissi and to the Egyptian people,” said a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The strikes took place around sundown, hours after the deadly attack. Christians, who account for about 10% of Egypt’s population of 80 million, have become the victims of an intensifying campaign of bombings and shootings masterminded by ISIS, which is trying to expand its footprint in Egypt. In April, at least 37 people were killed and more than 100 injured in two separate bombings at Christian Coptic churches packed with worshippers in northern Egypt one week before Coptic Easter.
Following the Libyan incursion, Egyptian armed forces released a short video which was aired on state television following the president’s speech. The voiceover in the army video said its air force carried out strikes on targets in Libya “after confirming their involvement in planning and committing the terrorist attack in Minya governorate on Friday." Egypt’s military said that the air strikes are ongoing, local media reports.