TINLEY PARK, Ill. -- A Tinley Park man and several of his relatives, including two sons and a grandchild, were among 29 killed when a bus of Christians on their way to a remote Egyptian monastery was attacked by members of the Islamic State Friday, according to family members.
Egypt's Interior Ministry said masked assailants opened fire as the bus traveled to the St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Maghagha, about 140 miles south of Cairo. The Coptic Orthodox monastery is reachable only by an unpaved route that veers off the main highway.
Among the dead were Mohsen Morkous, 60, of Tinley Park, his sons Sameh and Hany, both in the 30's, and 4-year-old granddaughter Marvy Hany. Samia Ibrahim, Morkous' wife and also a Tinley Park resident, was wounded but is recovering in an Egyptian hospital, family said.
"He was going to the monastery in Egypt to get blessings from the blessed place and prayer with the family together," Moshen's nephew Gerges Morkous said outside church services Sunday.
Gerges said when the group's bus was ambushed by the ISIS terrorists, they demanded that the Christians on the bus convert to Islam.
"They`re asking each one: convert to Muslim, when they say, 'No, we`re not going to convert to Muslim,' they just, like, shot him right away in the head," Gerges said.
Gerges said Mohsen, Sameh, Hany, Marvy, and another 12-year-old relative were all executed by the Islamic militants.
"I`m just worried about my family, the rest of my family in Egypt," said Gerges Morkous, the victim`s nephew, outside of church services Sunday.
Video interviews with survivors that surfaced Sunday paint a picture of untold horror during the attack, with children hiding under their seats to escape gunfire. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday.
One survivor, a small boy who is possibly six, said his mother pushed him under her seat and covered him with a bag. A young woman speaking from her hospital bed said the assailants ordered the women to surrender their jewelry and money.
Arab TV stations showed images of a bus riddled with bullet holes, with many of its windows shattered and bloodstains on the seats. Bodies lay on the ground, some covered with black plastic sheets. Children could be heard screaming hysterically in the background.
Morkous and his wife attended St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in southwest suburban Monee.
Father Samuel Azmy, the pastor of the church, told worshipers at Sunday services not to be afraid.
He also had a message for the gunmen who took his friend's life.
"I tell the terrorists, ISIS, that our god teaches us to love everyone -- even our enemies. We love them and we forgive them. This is Christianity," he said.
Egypt responded to Friday's attack by launching a series of airstrikes that targeted what it said were militant bases in eastern Libya in which the assailants were trained. On Saturday, the military said on its official Facebook page that the airstrikes were continuing "day and night" and that they have "completely" destroyed their targets. It gave no details.
The Egyptian Cabinet, meanwhile, said 13 victims of Friday's carnage remained hospitalized in Cairo and Minya province, where the attack took place. The bloodshed came on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Egypt's government has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an IS affiliate that is centered in the northern region of the Sinai peninsula, though attacks on the mainland have recently increased.
After a visit to Egypt last month by Pope Francis, IS vowed to escalate attacks against Christians and urged Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and Western embassies.