Suicide bombers attacked two separate Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, leaving at least 44 dead and more than 100 injured, Egyptian Streets reports.
The first attack was at St. George’s Church in Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo. According to The Telegraph, the bomber was seated in the front pews near the altar when he detonated himself. The Health Ministry in Gharbiya said the incident left 27 dead and 71 wounded. Most of those killed were church servants.
One of the witnesses, church servant Victor Foad, said he dropped to the ground when he heard the explosion.
“I kept looking at the human remains but I didn’t recognize who was who because their faces were so damaged, even though I know them,” he said.
Hours later, another militant wearing a suicide vest blew himself up outside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. At least 17 people died and 48 were injured. Coptic Pope Tawadros II presided the Sunday Mass, but had already left the church at the time of the blast.
“These acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people,” the head of the Coptic Church said.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the twin bombings.
According to Sky News, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency following the deadly attacks.
“Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt,” the leader stated.
Egyptianstreetscom. (2017). Egyptianstreetscom. https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/04/09/bomb-strikes-st-marks-cathedral-in-alexandria-hours-after-tanta-bombing/
Telegraphcouk. (2017). The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/09/explosion-egyptian-church-palm-sunday-service-kills-13-injures/
Skycom. (2017). Sky News. http://news.sky.com/story/deadly-explosion-near-a-church-in-egypt-10831418