Islamic State has taken the responsibility of the bomb blasts on the two Egyptian churches on Palm Sunday that killed at least 45 people and injured over 100. “A group that belongs to Islamic State carried out the two attacks on the churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria,” the group’s news agency Amaq said.
According to the reports, the first bombing killed at least 25 and injured at least 78 in Tanta, a Nile Delta city less than 100 kilometres outside Cairo and the second bombing, carried out just a few hours later by a suicide bomber in Alexandria, hit the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 11, including three police officers, and injuring 35.
The bombing comes just a week before Coptic Easter and Pope Francis’ Egypt visit. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered the opening of military hospitals to receive the injured.
Security sources said the primary investigations suggest that a person put an explosive device inside the church during the Christian prayers celebrating the Palm Sunday. However, others said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.
Egypt’s Christian minority has often been targeted by Islamist militants. Egypt has seen a wave of attacks by militants since 2013 when the military overthrew president Mohammed Morsi, an elected leader who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, and launched a crackdown against Islamists.
Palm Sunday falls on Sunday before the Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population of 85 million.
(With inputs from agencies)