Local church goers react to Palm Sunday bombings in Egypt

Cheryl Sanders
April 10, 2017

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned Sunday's attacks on churches and summoned the National Defence Council to an urgent session.

The attacks in the Nile Delta cities of Tanta and Alexandria followed a Cairo church bombing in December and came weeks before a planned visit by Catholic Pope Francis meant to show support for Egypt's Christian minority.

The suicide bombings deliberately targeted Copts on Palm Sunday in a symbolic attack against one of the oldest religious communities in Egypt.

Sunday's blasts have been claimed by the IS, which also claimed the responsibility of a previous church blast in Cairo in December 2016 that left at least 28 worshipers dead, mostly women and children.

"President Sisi.has chose to order the military to deploy protection units to guard vital and important infrastructure in all the republic's provinces", a statement from the presidency said.

In a statement, his office said the he had "ordered units from the military to immediately deploy and assist the civilian police in securing vital facilities in all provinces of the republic".

Sisi declared the "three-month" state of emergency, which he must present to parliament within a week, during a defiant speech warning that the war against the jihadists "will be long and painful".

The first bombing happened at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta city, north of Cairo.

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.

Father Angelos Sarkis, who served for years at that very church in Tanta, didn't want to step away from the altar, Sunday, and led Palm Sunday services.

The worshippers had been celebrating Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar, marking the triumphant entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem.

Earlier, a bomb in a church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta killed 26 people and wounded more than 70. "The explosion took place in the front rows, near the altar, during the mass", General Tarek Atiya, the deputy to Egypt's interior minister in charge of relations with the media, told reporters.

"The attack.will only harden the determination (of the Egyptian people) to move forward on their trajectory to realise security, stability and comprehensive development", Sisi said in a statement.

"We're in God's hands, whether we're in Seattle or in Egypt or even in heaven", Wahba said. It comes just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit Egypt. "I have great.confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly", President Trump tweeted. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for that attack.

Other reports by iNewsToday