Angry Coptic Christians on Saturday buried relatives shot dead on a bus carrying pilgrims south of the Egyptian capital, the second such jihadist attack on the country’s main religious minority in as many years.
The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind Friday’s attack which killed seven Christians returning from a visit to the desert cemetery of Saint Samuel that was also targeted in 2017.
A security source said another seven people were wounded in the shootings near the city of Minya.
Hundreds of angry Copts gathered in and around Minya’s Prince Tadros church from dawn for the funeral of six victims, under heavy guard by masked security personnel.
The seventh victim, an Anglican, was buried Friday evening in a village outside Minya.
After Saturday’s prayers, the bodies were carried out in white coffins bearing wreaths of white flowers, amid shouts of “with our souls, with our blood, we will defend the cross!”
They were being buried in a nearby Coptic cemetery.
“We will not forget the promises of officials, including the president of the republic, that the criminals will be punished,” Bishop Makarios of Minya said in an address to mourners.
Members of the crowd, however, booed as he thanked security officials.
Many Copts accuse authorities for not doing enough to protect them, following a string of attacks that have killed over 100 members of their community since 2011.
– Fear of further attacks –
Dozens of victims’ family members had waited throughout Friday night outside Minya’s main hospital to receive the bodies for burial.
An elderly woman wept for her dead son and wailed as she sat on the ground outside the hospital morgue.
“He was the best child… I’ll never see him again,” she said, as other mourners rushed to carry a coffin to an ambulance to be taken to a church for a funeral.
Security forces remained on the alert outside the hospital for fear of further attacks, while roads were blocked to the scene of the shooting.
Bishop Makarios visited the hospital to try to comfort mourners.
Another Coptic cleric, asking not to be named, told AFP around 24 people had escaped the attack unharmed and spent the night at a church in a nearby village.