The Islamic State extremist group said its militants were responsible for a deadly attack on a bus carrying Coptic Christians to a monastery in southern Egypt on Friday.
Police said seven people were killed in the attack, while the Amaaq News Agency, an Islamic State mouthpiece, said the “ambush” wounded more than 18 people.
The attack took place near St Samuel Monastery in the southern province of Minya, a security source said in a statement carried by an Egyptian broadcaster.
The bus had been driving along a side road to the monastery; the main road was closed on earlier security orders due to its desert location and lack of phone communication, the source said.
The search for the attackers was ongoing, the source said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi responded to the attack, saying the country would not be deterred in its efforts to combat terrorism.
“We are deeply saddened by the martyrs who fell today,” al-Sissi wrote on Twitter. “I wish the wounded a speedy recovery and affirm our determination to continue our efforts to combat black terrorism and to prosecute the perpetrators.”
“This incident will not undermine our nation’s will to continue its battle for survival,” the president said.
In May 2017, 29 people were killed in a similar attack in Minya.
Friday’s assault comes a day before al-Sissi opens a major world youth forum in the Sinai resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh. In recent years, the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula has seen deadly militant attacks, mainly against security forces.
Militants have carried out a series of attacks in Egypt since 2013, the year the army deposed democratically-elected Islamist president Mohammad Morsi after mass protests against his rule.
Several of the attacks have targeted Christians and churches.
In April 2017, twin suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State militants targeted two Coptic churches, killing 48 people. The Palm Sunday bombings prompted Egypt to declare a nationwide state of emergency.
Christians account for around 10 per cent of Egypt’s predominantly Muslim population of about 100 million.