Gunmen Attack Coptic Christians in Egypt on Way to Prayer, Kill 26

(Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)Christian woman lights a candle at Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit, in Cairo, Egypt April 23, 2017. Picture taken April 23, 2017.

Masked gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians in southern Egypt on Friday, killing 26 people and wounding 26 others as they were driving to a monastery, medical sources and eyewitnesses said.

The group was traveling in two buses and a small truck in Minya province, which is home to a sizable Christian minority, the sources said.

Provincial governor Essam al-Bedaiwy said earlier that 23 people had been killed and 25 wounded.

Eyewitnesses said the Copts were attacked as they were going to pray at the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in the western part of the province.

They said masked men stopped the vehicles on a road leading to the monastery and opened fire.

Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 92 million, have been the subject of a series of deadly attacks in recent months.

About 70 have been killed in bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta since December.

Those attacks were claimed by Islamic State. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's attack.