Christians, thousands of them, had gathered at a church in a small southern Egyptian village to mourn 7 of their community members killed by gunmen on Friday, but quickly turned the mourning to protest.

 The gunman had attacked dozens of Coptic Christians travelling to a monastery in central Egypt, killing at least 29 people and wounding 24, with many children among the victims.

A day after the attack, worshipers at Church of the Sacred Family in Dayr Jarnous village gathered to mourn and pray, but their grief turned into anger. They began a march with young men chanting as they carried a large wooden cross.

"With blood and soul, we will defend you, oh cross!" they yelled. "We will avenge them or die like them," they said. "There is no god but God and the Messiah is God!"

Reuters reports that women dressed in black wept and wailed, some even slapped themselves on the face. One woman whose father was killed had a nervous breakdown and had to be carried away from the church by others.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came on the eve of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. It followed a series of church bombings claimed by Islamic State in a campaign of violence against Copts.

Eyewitnesses said three vehicles were attacked. A bus and a car transporting children and families to the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor were the initial targets.

The gunmen fired at the windows then boarded the vehicles, shooting dead all the men and firing at the feet of the women and children. They also took all the gold the women were carrying, eyewitnesses said. Some children were killed.

When one of the gunmen's vehicles had a flat tyre, they stopped a truck carrying Christian workers, shot them and took their truck,

One of the gunmen had a camera, eyewitnesses said, indicating that the group behind the shootings might release footage of the attack in the future.