Palm Sunday bombings of Egyptian Coptic churches kill 44

Reuters By Arwa Gaballa and Ahmed Tolba | TANTA,EGYPT/CAIRO At least 44 people were killed in bomb attacks on the symbolic cathedral seat of the Coptic Pope and another church on Palm Sunday, prompting anger and fear

Reuters
By Arwa Gaballa and Ahmed Tolba | TANTA,EGYPT/CAIRO

At least 44 people were killed in bomb attacks on the symbolic cathedral seat of the Coptic Pope and another church on Palm Sunday, prompting anger and fear among Christians and troop deployments across Egypt.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also injured more than 100 people and occurred a week before Coptic Easter, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit Egypt later this month.

The assault is the latest on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants, and a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect them as part of his campaign against extremism.

The first bombing, in Tanta, a Nile Delta city about 100 km (60 miles) north of Cairo, tore through the inside of St. George Church during its Palm Sunday service, killing at least 27 people and injuring at least 78, the Ministry of Health said.

The second, carried out a few hours later by a suicide bomber in Alexandria, hit Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 17 people, including three police officers, and injuring 48, the ministry added.

Coptic Pope Tawadros had been leading the mass at Saint Mark’s Cathedral at the time of the explosion but was not injured, the Interior Ministry said.

“These acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people,” he was later quoted as saying by state media.

Sisi ordered troops be immediately deployed to assist police in securing vital facilities, a statement from his office said, a rare move for the general-turned-president, who as defence chief led the military’s 2013 ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohamed Mursi.

Deflecting Western criticism that he has suppressed political opposition and human rights activists since he was elected in 2014, Sisi has sought to present himself as an indispensable bulwark against terrorism in the Middle East.

“The attack…will only harden the determination (of the Egyptian people) to move forward on their trajectory to realise security, stability and comprehensive development,” Sisi said in a statement.

President Trump, who hosted Sisi last week in his first official visit to the U.S., expressed support for a leader he has said he plans to work more closely with on fighting Islamist militants, who Sisi identifies as an existential threat.

“So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns. I have great confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly,” Trump wrote on his official Twitter account.

Hundreds gathered outside the Tanta church shortly after the blast, some weeping and wearing black while inside, blown apart pews sat atop tiles soaked with blood.

“There was blood all over the floor and body parts scattered,” a woman who was inside the church at the time of the attack said.

“There was a huge explosion in the hall. Fire and smoke filled the room and the injuries were extremely severe,” another woman, Vivian Fareeg, said.

“WE FEEL TARGETED”

Islamic State’s branch in Egypt has stepped up attacks and threats against Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people and are the biggest Christian minority in the Middle East.

In February, scores of Christian families and students fled Egypt’s North Sinai province after a spate of targeted killings.

Those attacks followed one of the deadliest on Egypt’s Christian minority, when a suicide bomber hit its largest Coptic cathedral, killing at least 25 people. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for that attack.

Islamic State has waged a low-level war against soldiers and police in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for years but is now targeting Christians and broadening its reach into Egypt’s mainland. That is a potential turning point in a country trying to prevent a provincial insurgency spiralling into wider sectarian bloodshed.

Although Copts have faced attacks by Muslim neighbours, who have burnt their homes and churches in poor rural areas, in the past, the community has felt increasingly insecure since Islamic State spread through Iraq and Syria in 2014.

“Of course we feel targeted, there was a bomb here about a week ago but it was dismantled. There’s no security,” said another Christian woman in Tanta in reference to an attack earlier this month near a police training centre..

Wahby Lamie, who had one nephew killed and another injured in the Tanta blast, expressed exasperation.

“How much longer are we going to be this divided? Anyone who’s different from them now is an infidel, whether they’re Muslim or Christian. They see them as infidels,” he said.

“How much longer are these people going to exist? And how much longer will security be this incompetent?”

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, Mahmoud Mourad, Mohammed Abdellah, Amina Ismail, Ahmed Aboulenein, and Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Eric Knecht; editing by Larry King and Alexander Smith)

aseye.assenna@googlemail.com

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22 COMMENTS
  • almazina April 9, 2017

    Nothing less can be expected from muslim jihadists. If moderate suni muslims do not act to eradicate them they will have difficulty to live anywhere in the world including egypt and suidi arabia.

    • no moderate sunnis April 10, 2017

      Almazina,

      Saying moderate Sunnis is like saying moderate Nazis/kkk/murderers. There is only Moslems that have not got the opportunity…… not moderates.

  • Daniel April 9, 2017

    It is the criminal savage moslem killers again inflicting so much damages and pains on innocent Christians.
    Do they really think that their 72 evil moslem virgins are worth in their evil moslem after life HELL??
    With savage evil moslem Arabs as our neighbors from hell poor Christian Ethiopians and Eritreans (the beautiful and peaceful Habesha people) always have to sleep with one of their eyes wide open.
    How do we extinguish the savage evil moslems hostility and destruction ambition towards our Christian population? Their evil Islam came about by savage sword killings and sadly it seems these savages can’t exist without savagery and bloodshed of innocent people. Only cowards target children, women and the old indiscriminately.
    Let’s keep a very watchful eyes on Mohammed’s and deki Mohammed’s immigrants of Eritrea as well.

    • k.tewolde April 10, 2017

      Daniel writes,’……Only cowards target children,women and the old indiscriminately.’ Yes indeed. Terrorism in all shapes or forms is ugly.It is a sad day for the land the son of Mary and Joseph once trekked and left his foot prints.Yes ISIS will be blown away and vaporized and so are those who target the defenseless and innocent.

    • Jacob T. April 10, 2017

      Brother Daniel
      These moslim beast animals who committed inhuman atrocities should not be rewarded with 72 virgins but should be chopped up into 72 pieces or burned alive as with their backward Sharia laws. Islam is the only religion in the whole world that pushes its ignorant, backward and blind criminal followers to terrorize and to convert non-moslims by force and killings.

  • alem April 9, 2017

    It is too sad that to be a christian in egypt is a crime. The fake leaders of egypt can not protect churchs and the peacefull christians.

  • Teclay April 10, 2017

    “ኣልህ ኦ ክበር “ቡምምምምምምምምምም ኣብ ሓንቲ ሰከንድ ፣ከም ዎዮ ለባማት ኣምሓሩ ዝበልዎ” የንበረ እንዳልነበረ”
    The terror week of Islamists ,1,,Sankt petersburg ,,,,2..,Stockholm …3,,,Egypt not to mention about Pakistan Iraq etc …What a madness ?? Where are the so called moderate Muslims???Where is the condemnation ?? So if they don’t condemn it ,they are supporting it silently,by saying “ኢንሻላህ “.
    Anyway the 10% (10 million ) Christians will not have any future ,sooner or later they will be exterminated by the dirty Bedewin-Arabs…It is high time to look a new home like California.

    • Hana April 10, 2017

      Ato Teclay
      Are there any Muslim moderators in the Arab Islamist world? I don’t think so!
      Where is the condemnation you asked! Where did you expect it to come from?
      Yes indeed, what a madness and what an awful future for our children who’ll be sharing this world with the awful Muslims.

  • Kalighe April 10, 2017

    ISS is an Islamic organization as KKK is a Christian organization. The two have similar ideologies that has nothing to do with religion. All those who want live in peace must fight ISS and their likes who come in many forms.
    The majority of victims of ISS are Muslims, despite that some malicious elements here are not ashamed to insult Muslims, as if they are ISS followers.
    My heart is with the victims of this horrible crime. My their souls rest in peace.
    May Allah/God bring peace to all of us.

    • no moderate sunnis April 10, 2017

      Kalighe
      In the 1940s nevertheless killed 48 Christians at my abashawul ,because they had the chance …believing the Moslem soldiers of England were staying. I am sure you are supporting those who did Allah’s work in the church..while white Christians do not support KKK. Nice try but not good example.

    • alem April 10, 2017

      Kalighe
      Where is that condemnation from the shecks or leaders of arab countries. There is no condemnation even from the moslem religious leaders in egypt let alone from saudi or iran. There is expression of solidarity from the egyptian moslems- the ordinary citizens. No one can cover the bad treatments of egyptian christians by the government and the society. So do not try to be politically correct. We are not talking about moslems in ethiopia or eritrea.

      • alem April 10, 2017

        Correction
        There is no expression of solidarity from the egyptian moslem society. None.

      • hilmi ab/tigray April 11, 2017

        They have condemn them stop equating all Muslims as criminal, those killer are funded ,organized by your master the United States the one who give you welfare if you no

        • almazina April 13, 2017

          If u hate america, the country that is giving u wellfare money without sweating for it, u can go back to eritrea where u can not use ur bathroom without permission from ur master wedi medhin berad.

    • almazina April 10, 2017

      Kkk is a white supremacist not a christian organization. Do not write something that u do not know.

  • Yohana April 10, 2017

    ሎሚ ንናይ ግብጺ ክርስትያናት ፡ ትማሊ ኣብ ሽወደን፡ ሎንዶን ፡ ፓሪስ ፡ በርሊን ፡ ማድሪድ ፡ ፒተስበርግ ሩስያ ።
    ቅድሚ ትማሊ ንኽንደይ ኣሸሓት ክርስትያን ኤርትራውያን ኣብ ሃገራት ኣስላም ዓረብ ኣብ በዓል ሱዳን ሊብያ ግብጺ ሲናይ ንባርነት ዝሸጡ፣ ዝኣሰሩ ዘሳቐዩ፤ ኩሊቶም ዓይኖም ዝመዝሓቑ፤ ገንዝቦም ዝዘመቱ፣ ንክርስትያን ኤርትራውያን ንወሲብ ዝሸጡ፣ ብኻራ ዝሓረዱ ብኣድራጋ ጠያይት ዝረሸኑ እዚኦም እስላማውያን ጂሃድ ዓረባውያንን ናቶም ከደምትን እዮም።
    ገለ ሓሰውቲ ገለ ቁንጣሮ ዉሑዳት እዮም እንተበሉኹም ሓሶት እዩ። እዚኣቶም ቅዳሕ ናይ በዓል ጂሃዳዊ ወሃባዊ ስዑዲ ዓረብን ብኣቶም ዝድገፉን፣ እቲ ረሳሕ ትምህርቶምን ገንዘብን ካብ መሳጊድ ናይ ሳዑዲ፣ ቐጠር፣ ኩወይት፣ ኦማን፣ ባህረይን፣ ኢማረይት ተዋህሊሉ ዝመጽእ እዩ።
    እቶም ገና ደቂስኩም ዘለኹም ነዚ ርኢኹም ተበራበሩ። በዓል መነን እንታወትን ነዚ ከምዚ ዘራኻስዎ ዘለዉ ፍለጡ። በዓል መን እዮም ናይዞም ኣረሜን እስላማውያን ጂሃድ ቅዳሕ ክኾኑ ህርድግ ዝብሉ ዘለዉ ? በዓል መን እዮም ናይ ደቀባት መንነት ታሪኽ ቋንቋ ባህልን ስርዓትን ብሓዊ ከንድዱ ለይትን መዓልትን ህርድግ ዝብሉ ዘለዉ?

  • PH April 10, 2017

    What happened should be condemned. This kind of terror is not admissible by human kind. however, the above commentators should beer in mind that this terrorists are not true Muslims. They do it with out knowledge of mankind. The absolute necessity is forgiveness to win

  • Teclay April 10, 2017

    ” this terrorists are not true Muslims” = They are …
    .” The absolute necessity is forgiveness to win” = ሰይ ኮቲ !!! ምስላ ኣቦታት ይብል ” ድው በለለይ ክዕወተልካ ”
    The solution is “eye to eye ” ,just as the Israels have been doing .Dirty-Bedewin don’t understand tolerance,democracy etc,.,but severe punishment -that is why 5 mil Israels have been living in peace surrounding by 350 mil backward Bedewins.

  • k.tewolde April 10, 2017

    The pundits are out feeding each other the religious feast and exploiting a gruesome incident as a political taking point.Folks,we have a situation back home and innocent people are dying there everyday silently with out the use of barrel bombs and toxic gases but cameras are not allowed to show the world except those ones who are being regurgitated into the desert and sea after the beasts belly is full with their flesh and blood.Lets take care of our ugly situation before analyzing the middle east crisis.We have ISIS smack down in our backyard,he just sports a different flag and instead Allah Akbar screams ‘awet nehafash!’

    • alem April 12, 2017

      Assad’s targets are clear. Sunni are terrorists in his eyes. Isis/sunni’s taregets is all but sunni”s. This makes isis/sunni’s the worst terrorists this planet has ever witnessed.

  • ወዲ ሰብ April 11, 2017

    ምስ እዚኦም ደናቁር ሕልና ዘይብሎም ብስሬካ ጥራሕ ኢካ ትነብር ከምዚ ናይ እስራኤልን ኤሜሪካን. ኣቦታት ክምስሉ ኣስላማይ ተትነግስ ምሓረደ እምበር ኣይምስፈረደን ኢሎም ኢዮም
    ካብቲ ዘገርም መራሕቲ ሃይማኖት ምስልምና ግደፎ ኮንዶም ክገብርዎ በጨቅ ኢሎም ኣይዛረቡን እዮም ብኣንጻሩ ኣስላም ኣብ ዓዲ ክርስትያን መሰሎም ሕልው ኮይኑስ. ወልፌር ክወስዱ ናይ መንግስቲ ገዛ ብሳብሲዳይድ ክነብሩ ትሪኦም ሕጂ እሞ ሑሉፍ ሓሊፎም ኣብቲ ናይ መንግስቲ ገዛ ዘብሁቡን ዝኩልኩሉን እሶም እዮም ዝበዝሑ ኣብቲ ኦፊስ ዝሰርሑ ክርስትያን ትኮንካ ፋይልካ ንድሕሪት እጎቱዎ ሰይጣውንቲ እዮም ።

    • k.tewolde April 12, 2017

      Wedi seb,how did you end up in the house of welfare while you have a house full of gold?

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