Twenty-three people have died and dozens more are injured after a bus was attacked in Egypt.
It’s believed the bus was carrying Coptic Christians and travelling south of Cairo, according to Egyptian state TV.
Between eight and 10 attackers dressed in military uniforms opened fire on the bus, according to witnesses.
Egypt has been fighting militants linked to Islamic State who have waged an insurgency, mainly focused on the volatile north of the Sinai Peninsula, although there have also been attacks on the mainland.
Egypt has seen a wave of attacks on its Christians, including twin suicide bombings in April and another attack in December on a Cairo church that left over 75 people dead and scores wounded.
Isis in Egypt claimed responsibility for those attacks and vowed to carry out more.
Late last month, Pope Francis visited Egypt in part to show his support for the Christians of this Muslim majority Arab nation who have been increasingly targeted by Islamic militants.
During the trip, Francis paid tribute to the victims of the December bombing at Cairo’s St Peter’s church, which is located in close proximity to St Mark’s cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Following the Pope’s visit, the Islamic State affiliate in Egypt vowed to escalate attacks against Christians, urging Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and western embassies as they are targets of their group’s militants.
Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, have repeatedly complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at hands of the country’s majority Muslim population.
Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists.
They rallied behind general-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in 2013 when he ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Attacks on Christian homes, businesses and churches subsequently surged, especially in the country’s south.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called a meeting of security officials in the wake of a deadly attack on a group of Christians in the south of the country on Friday, the state news agency said.
Coptic Christians, who make up about 10% 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.
The Egyptian media quotes local health officials as saying that the attack happened on Friday while the bus was traveling on the road to the St. Samuel Monastery in the Minya governorate, about 220 kilometers, or about 140 miles, south of the Egyptian capital.
No group have immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.