Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter

Apr 20, 2017, 08:48
Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter

The first bombing occurred in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta, where an explosion ripped through a Palm Sunday service at St. George's Church, reportedly killing at least 25 people and wounding 60 others. The explosive device was pre-planted in the prayer hall, according to Al-Manar broadcaster. "It means that people will get trailed for no reason and arrested with no warrants, but what does it do for the future of Egyptians?"

A few hours later, a second attack outside St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria killed 18 civilians and four police officers, with a suicide bomber blowing himself up outside the cathedral.

He showed photos on his phone of the carnage: human remains, blood and shattered glass strewn across the floor of the church on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.

Egypt's Coptic Christians have spoken of their sadness - and their fears for the future - a day after terrorists targeted two churches packed with parishioners celebrating Palm Sunday.

On New Year's Day of 2011, a vehicle bomb at the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria killed 23 people who had come there to pray.

But ISIL has been unable to seize population centers there, unlike its early gains in Iraq and Syria, and it has also lost top militants to Egyptian military strikes in recent months.

Graphic images and footage presumably from inside the church have emerged, showing people gathered around apparently lifeless bodies.

Twin bombings, at least one by a suicide bomber, hit churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

There were scenes of grief and anguish Monday as mourners wailed during funerals at the sprawling St. Mina monastery on the outskirts of Alexandria.

Sisi must present the emergency declaration to parliament within a week.

"I'm so sad, I can not speak", said one mourner, a woman in her 40s.

"I will not abandon the church".

Copts have long complained of discrimination and sporadic attacks by extremists. "We are a generation that won't leave the church or Egypt". "I would like security to be intensified", he told CNN. Dozens have been killed in sectarian violence that has seen homes and churches set alight and bombed.

The December bombing in a church adjacent to the Coptic papal seat marked a shift in ISIL tactics.

The attacks also raised security fears ahead of a visit to Cairo by Roman Catholic Pope Francis planned for April 28-29 meant to promote interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians. The Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, which has been affiliated with IS and known as "Wilayat Sinai" since late 2014, has claimed responsibility for the majority of the attacks, according to TASS.

In a mass at the Vatican Sunday, Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit Egypt later this month, expressed "deep condolences" to "all of the dear Egyptian nation".

The former army chief met with U.S. President Donald Trump a week ago at the White House, seeking closer ties and discussing the fight against extremism.