Gunmen kill 23 in gun attack on Christians in Egypt: provincial governor

  • As Sri Lanka landslides kill 57 people

Gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians as they were driving to a monastery south of Cairo on Friday, killing 23 and wounding 25, the governor of Egypt’s Minya province, Essam al-Bedaiwy, said.

The group was traveling in two buses and a small truck in Minya province, which is home to a sizeable Christian minority, the sources said.

Provincial governor Essam al-Bedaiwy said earlier that 23 people had been killed and 25 wounded.

Eyewitnesses said the Copts were attacked as they were going to pray at the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the western part of the province.

They said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire.

Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 92 million, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months.

About 70 have been killed in bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta since December.

Those attacks were claimed by Islamic State.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s attack.

Two suicide bombings killed 44 people in Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, promptly declared a three-month state of emergency.

In the meantime, the death toll in landslides triggered by heavy rain across Sri Lanka has surpassed 57, with no fewer than 30 other people missing, disaster management officials said on Friday.

“The landslides occurred in central, southern and western parts of the country after two days of heavy rain,’’ disaster management officials said.

The majority of the deaths were reported from the Kalutara district 40 kilometres south of the capital, where 37 deaths have been confirmed, UDC Jayalal.

Officials in the area said no fewer than 20 more deaths have been reported from the adjoining Ratnapura district.

Heavy rains led to over six major landslides in the two districts leaving no fewer than 30 others missing.

There were reports of deaths in the capital Colombo, but that could not be independently confirmed.

“We have deployed the army backed by the navy and air force to assist in the rescue operations,’’ Brig. Roshan Seneviratne said.

Heavy rain also flooded several parts of the southern Galle and Matara districts both popular tourist destinations.

The floods and landslides have already displaced over 10,000 people and that number is likely to rise with others asked to leave their homes.

“We have appealed to the people living on the banks of the rivers affected by floods to vacate their homes,’’ Minister of Home Affairs Vajira Abeywardena said.

In May 2016, no fewer than 127 people were killed in a landslide in the central Kegalle district.