May 27, 2017 / 10:24 AM / 3 months ago

Egypt says air strikes destroy militant camps after attack on Christians

Relatives of victims of an attack that killed at least 28 Coptic Christians on Friday react at the funeral in Minya, Egypt May 26, 2017.Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian air raids over Libya have destroyed several camps that trained the militants who killed dozens of Christians in southern Egypt on Friday, the Egyptian military said on Saturday.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest directed at Egypt's increasingly embattled Christian minority following two church bombings last month that killed more than 45, also claimed by the group.

The statement from the military spokesman did not specify precisely where the strikes were conducted but state television said on Friday that operations were focused on the eastern Libyan city of Derna.

"The air force has conducted several intensive day and night-time strikes. They targeted several gatherings of terrorists elements within Libyan territory after coordinating and fully verifying all information," it said.

"The strikes led to the destruction of the planned targets, which included concentrated areas for the training of terrorist elements that participated in the planning and implementation of the Minya attack," it said.

On Friday, Egyptian fighter jets carried out six air strikes directed at camps in Libya which Cairo says have been training militants who killed 29 Coptic Christians and wounded 24 in a shooting spree in the Egyptian province of Minya.

A video uploaded to the military's Facebook page depicted fighter jets being loaded with missiles and taking off as well as aerial footage of air strikes.

In an address to the nation on Friday following the Minya shooting, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy; writing by Eric Knecht; editing by David Clarke

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