CAIRO — Gunmen opened fire on vehicles carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt early Friday, killing at least 20 people, according to state news agencies, the latest deadly assault on the country’s embattled religious minority.
A Christian official in Minya Province, south of Cairo, said the assailants opened fire on a pickup truck carrying workmen and a bus carrying worshipers as they traveled in a convoy to St. Samuel’s monastery. Many of the worshipers were children.
“We are having a very hard time reaching the monastery because it is in the desert,” said the official, Ibram Samir. “It’s very confusing. But we know that children were killed.”
The governor of Minya told Reuters that the toll had reached 23 dead and 25 wounded. The workmen included gardeners and builders who worked at the monastery, Mr. Samir said.
The worshipers were heading to the monastery as part of an outing that usually includes about 40 children and a church chaperone, state news media reported, citing a church official who was not identified. Only three children were found alive on Friday after the shooting, the official said, and all were in critical condition.
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