Egypt launches 2nd day of Libyan air strikes after attack on Christians

Saturday's bombing raid targeted militant training camps which the Egyptian authorities claim were used by the gunmen.

Persecution of Egypt's Christians has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011, and as an ISIS affiliate wages an insurgency on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

"Along with the report from its 'Amaq News Agency for the attack, the Islamic State (IS) issued a formal communique claiming credit for the killing of Coptic Christians in Minya, Egypt", read a report published on the group's website.

"There was enough information and evidence of the terrorist elements involved in the (attack) having trained in these camps", a foreign ministry statement said.

In a message to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Holy See said Francis was "deeply saddened to learn of the barbaric attack in central Egypt and of the tragic loss of life and injury caused by this senseless act of hatred".

A bombing at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December 2016, including many women and children.

Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from the Libyan capital Tripoli, said residents of Derna "are very angry" about the airstrikes.

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church said on Friday it was "in pain over violence and evil", hours following an attack in Upper Egypt's Minya on a bus carrying Coptic Christians, which killed 26 people and injured others.

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IS said that its militants attacked Christians when they were traveling to Saint Samuel monastery in Egypt.

Two deadly church bombings in Alexandria and Tanta took more than 45 lives in April, and almost 30 people were killed in the Daesh-claimed attack on a church in the capital Cairo in December.

"The fact that this happened so deep within Egypt suggests to me that the bases of operations of these kinds of attacks are not over the border in Libya, but are actually within Egypt", Tarek Masoud of Harvard University told Al Jazeera.

"The mission of the terrorists is done in Syria, and now they are moving on to Egypt".

Friday's attack is the third against Christians in Egypt in six months.

President Donald Trump said Friday that the "merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls".

Egypt's Christian minority, which makes up about 10% of the country's population, has repeatedly been targeted by armed groups. In December, a suicide bomber struck a church in Cairo, killing 29 Copts.

IS jihadists have threatened further attacks.

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