As Egyptian Christians celebrate Palm Sunday, two deadly blasts at Tanta’s Mar Girgis Church and Alexandria’s St Mark’s Cathedral killed and injured dozens in the deadliest attack on Copts in years

CAIRO, Egypt- Ahram Online reports over at least 45 people were killed and scores injured after twin bombing attacks hit Christian churches in Tanta and Alexandria Egypt on Palm Sunday. A State of Emergency has been declared and will last three months.

Forensics collecting evidence at the site of a bomb blast which struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Cairo, on April 9, 2017 AFP

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ISIS announced responsibility for the two bombings via its news agency Amaq on social media.

The two attacks, the first inside St George’s Church in Tanta and the second at the perimeter of St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, killed at least 45 people and injured over 100, the largest coordinated terrorist attack targeting Egyptian Christians.

The group had previously claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that targeted St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Cairo in December which killed at least 25 Christians, most women and children.

In February, the group released a video in which it vowed to carry out more attacks on Egyptian Christians, describing the attack on St Peter and St Paul’s Church as “just the beginning.”

 

Forensics collecting evidence at the site of a bomb blast which struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Cairo, on April 9, 2017 AFP

The same month witnessed an exodus of hundreds of Christian families from North Sinai following several militant killings targeting the community.

In March, the founder of IS-affiliated group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Salem Salma El-Hamdeen, also known as Abu Anas El-Ansari, was killed by Egypt’s armed forces in an airstrike.

The military announced recently that it had taken full control of the Mount Halal area, which was considered one of the key centres of terrorist activity in Sinai.

Three Egyptian police officers were killed when a suicide bomber they had prevented from entering St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria blew himself up.

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

The dead officers including policeman Ahmed Ibrahim, Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar, and Emad El-Rakiby, the head of the investigation department of Atarin district, the interior ministry said in a statement.

15 other people were killed in the attack.

A man wearing an explosive belt approached the cathedral in the Manshiya district of Alexandria on Sunday morning to enter, but the forces securing the cathedral stopped him, the interior ministry statement added.

The suicide bomber then detonated the bomb outside the cathedral, killing at least 18 and injuring 40 people, according to the health ministry’s latest statement.

Angelious Izhaq, the secretary of Pope Tawadros, who was conducting a service at the cathedral on Sunday morning, confirmed to ONTV channel that the pope was unharmed.

Earlier on Sunday morning a deadly blasts took place at Tanta’s Mar Girgis Church, during a Palm Sunday service.

People react in anger following an explosion at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, Sunday, April 9, 2017 AP

 

St. Mark’s Cathedral is the historical seat of the Pope of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

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