Church Explosion In Egypt Leaves At Least 21 Dead, Dozens Injured

Cheryl Sanders
April 9, 2017

Sunday's bombings of two Coptic churches in separate cities claimed by the Islamic State group are the latest attacks on Egypt's embattled Christian minority, increasingly targeted by IS and affiliated militants. Bombs tore through two Egyptian churches in different cities as worshippers were marking Palm Sunday, both claimed by the Islamic State group.

At least 26 people were killed and 70 injured in the first blast at a Coptic church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, north of Cairo.

Security sources said the primary investigations suggest that a person put an explosive device inside the church during the Christian prayers celebrating the Palm Sunday.

The church is symbolic as it is the seat of the Pope of Alexandria, head of the Coptic Church.

Egypt's Christian minority has often been targeted by Islamist militants in recent years.

"An attack in mainland Egypt would be a way to show that the group is still able to operate - despite this growing pressure - and embarrass the Egyptian government after Sisi's visit to Washington and before the Pope's visit in the coming weeks", he said, referring to Islamic State. According to various news agencies, at least 11 people were killed and 33 more were injured in the second blast.

"I express my heartfelt sorrow", he said, and prayed that the Lord would "convert the hearts of those who sow fear, violence and death, and those who make and traffic arms".

The bombings come just days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Washington and was warmly received by President Trump. Now Sunni Muslims form the majority religion in Egypt, while Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, account for about 10 percent of the country's population of about 94 million.

The blast at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church took place while it was full of people observing Palm Sunday, an especially holy day for the community.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is "so sad to hear of the terrorist attack" against the USA ally but added that he has "great confidence" that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, "will handle the situation properly".

"Every now and then, I see a person crying - I think they are Christian - and they keep saying: 'have you seen my family?"

The Ministry reiterates that this criminal act will not divide the unity of Egyptian society that has always maintained a strong unified societal fabric that is capable of combating and eradicating terrorism.

Coptic churches also often suffer vandalism or arson, and Copts say they are sidelined from many posts in the police, justice system and universities.

"Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday".

Other reports by iNewsToday