ISIS claims responsibility for Egypt church bombings killing at least 44

Cheryl Sanders
April 10, 2017

The first blast was in Tanta, north of Cairo, where a bomb at St. George's Coptic church killed at least 27 people and wounded more than 70.

The second, a few hours later in Alexandria, hit Saint Mark's Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 17 people, including three police officers, and injuring 48, the ministry added. Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square, decried the bombings, expressing "deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation".

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has declared a three-month state of emergency after deadly terror attacks in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In December previous year, 25 people were killed by a suicide bombing at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt's Al-Azhar - the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam - likewise condemned the attack, calling it a "despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents".

Relatives of victims react in front of a Coptic church that was bombed on Sunday in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.

ISIS claimed two Egyptian suicide bombers carried out both attacks and threatened further attacks in a statement published on social media. Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of the Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified.

Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, and are especially visible on Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, when they tote palms in the streets.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the two attacks on churches in Egypt that left at least 37 people dead and injured several others.

Egypt had been ruled for decades under a state of emergency, which was cancelled a month before Islamist president Mohamed Morsi took power in 2012.

US President Donald Trump led global condemnation of Sunday's attacks. "I have great.confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly", President Trump tweeted.

Egypt's Copts have endured successive attacks since Morsi's ouster in July 2013. It now seems to be changing tactics, targeting Christian civilians and broadening its reach into Egypt's mainland.

Other reports by iNewsToday