No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the fourth to target Christians since December, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The attack came on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Local health officials said the attack happened on Friday while the bus was traveling on the road to the St. Samuel Monastery in the Minya governorate, about 140 miles south of the Egyptian capital.
Eyewitnesses told Egyptian media that around 8:45 a.m. local time, about 10 masked men with assault rifles, some dressed in military uniforms, emerged from vehicles and sprayed the bus with bullets.
Some of the gunmen went into the bus and continued to fire on the passengers, many of whom were women and children, according to the witnesses. The attack lasted just a few minutes, after which the attackers fled the scene. They governor of Minya said Egyptian police had launched a manhunt for the attackers and set up roadblocks in the region.
Khaled Mogahed, the Health Ministry spokesman, said the death toll stood at 28 but feared it could rise further. According to Copts United news portal, only three children survived the attack. It was not immediately known if most or all of the victims were children.
In April, ISIS suicide bombers struck hours apart at two Coptic churches in northern Egypt, killing 44 people and turning Palm Sunday services into scenes of horror and outrage at the government that led the president to call for a three-month state of emergency.
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