May 27 (UPI) — Egypt’s air force launched strikes on suspected “terrorist camps” in Libya after a bus attack on Christians earlier Friday, the government announced.
“The attack resulted in the complete destruction of the targets which included training and concentration areas of elements that participated in the planning and execution of the attack,” an army statement said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced on national television that he had directed six strikes in the Libyan port city of Derna, along its western border.
“Egypt will never hesitate to strike terror camps anywhere … if it plans attacking Egypt whether inside or outside the country,” Sisi said.
On Saturday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an online statement that it had been carried out by one of its affiliates.
The Egyptian government said armed men killed at least 29 Coptic Christians and wounded dozens others while they were travelling to a monastery in Egypt’s Minya province.
Al Jazeera reported the locations targeted by Egyptian warplanes were civilian areas and populated districts inside the city.
Egypt’s air force struck Derna in February 2015 and March 2016, killing women and children.
“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. “That of course means this is a much bigger problem, one that may not be solved by striking some terrorist bases in faraway Libya.”
The distance between Egypt’s Minya province Derna was more than 500 miles.
Sisi hads declared a state of emergency in Egypt after the Islamic State bombedf two Coptic churches in April.
Christian comprise about 10 percent of the country’s population.
President Donald Trump denounced the attack, saying in a statement: “The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished. America stands with President Al Sisi and all the Egyptian people today, and always, as we fight to defeat this common enemy.