Death toll from Egypt church bombing rises to 21

Death toll from Egypt church bombing rises to 21

Cheryl Sanders
April 9, 2017

The bomber tried to storm the church where Coptic Pope Tawadros II was leading a Palm Sunday service but blew himself up when police prevented him from entering, the ministry said in a statement.

A second explosion has killed at least 11 people at a church in Alexandria, hours after a bomb at another church north of Cairo killed dozens of worshipers.

The ministry said Tawadros was unharmed, and a church official said he left before the explosion.

A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.

A UN Security Council statement condemned the bombings as "heinous" and "cowardly".

In response to the attack, an emergency room has been set up by Egypt's security departments.

Daesh terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks via its Amaq news agency.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is "so sad to hear of the terrorist attack" against the US ally but added that he has "great confidence" that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, "will handle the situation properly". The explosive device was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall, it said.

Blood was reported on marble pillars inside one of the churches, which was severely damaged by the blast.

CBC TV showed footage from inside the Mar Girgis church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.

The blasts targeted churches on Palm Sunday, one of the most important days on the Christian calendar, which commemorates Jesus's entry to Jerusalem.

Alexandria is the historic seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, who now resides in Cairo. "Today's terror attack near Cairo reminds us that Egypt too is under attack", she said. "God convert the hearts of the people who spread terror, violence and dead, and also the heart of who produces and traffic weapons", the Pope said, according to CNN. Sisi led the 2013 ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader who was elected to replace the deposed Hosni Mubarak.

Reports state that the second explosion has resulted in loss of two lives, and many others have been wounded in the attack.

The attacks were the latest assault on a religious minority by Islamist militants.

US President Donald Trump led global condemnation of Sunday's attacks.

"Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday", he tweeted. "United States strongly condemns. I have great confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly", he tweeted.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail condemned the attacks.

He said France "mobilizes all its forces in association with the Egyptian authorities in the fight against terrorism", and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

While the Copts have stood steadfast alongside the government, repeating the mantra that Egyptians were all being targeted by terrorists, an increase in attacks on Christians has tested that support.

Sisi, who as then army chief helped remove Morsi, has defended his security forces and accused jihadists of attacking Copts in order to divide the country.

They base their theology on the teachings of the Apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt. Tanta is roughly 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Cairo, in the Nile delta.

Earlier this month a policeman died and 15 people were injured when a bomb exploded near a police training centre in Tanta.

Other reports by iNewsToday