The first bombing occurred at Saint George Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, where at least 25 people were killed and more than 70 wounded, officials said. The second blast killed 11 people and wounded at least 35 others at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, just after Pope Tawadros II finished services, the Associated Press reports.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned the attacks, calling them an “outrageous” action that “targets both the Copts and Muslims of the homeland.” He said he investigaors would “hunt down the perpetrators and “take all measures to offer the necessary care for the wounded.”
The Bombings Came After ISIS Threatened It Would Step Up Attacks on Christians in Egypt in the Lead Up to Easter
The bombings at two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday, the day of observation that begins Holy Week, came after ISIS claimed it would be stepping up attacks on Christians in Egypt during the lead up to Easter, the Associated Press reports. The so-called Islamic State released a video through its Aamaq news agency threatening the attacks.
ISIS said Sunday on its Aamaq news agency that the deadly bombings were carried out by a Sinai Peninsula-based affiliate. The same group claimed responsibility for a December 2016 suicide bombing at a church in Cairo that killed 30 people and killings of Christians intended to drive them out of the northern Sinai area, the Associated Press reports.
The terror group said Egyptian Christians are “infidels” who are empowering the West against Muslims, Fox News reports.
The Bomb at Saint George Church in Tanta Was Placed Under a Seat in the Main Prayer Hall
The blast at Saint George Church in Tanta killed at least 25 people and wounded more than 70 others, CNN reports. Authorities said an explosive device was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall of the church, officials said.
“Everything is destroyed inside the church and blood can be seen on marble pillars,” a witness, Peter Kamel, told CNN.
A Suicide Bomber Killed At Least 11 People in the Attack Outside Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria
The attack in Alexandria, which killed at least 11 people, was a suicide bombing, NBC News reports. It occurred outside the Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the coastal city, which is historically the seat of Christianity in Egypt.
Pope Tawadros II had just finished services at the cathedral, but was not injured, NBC News reports. It is not clear if he was inside the church when the blast occurred or if he had already left the area.
Egypt’s Interior Minister said police guarding Saint Mark’s stopped the ISIS terrorist wearing an explosive belt from entering the church and he detonated the explosive outside the building, CNN reports.