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State of emergency declared in Egypt

Blood is seen on the benches after a bomb went off inside a church which claimed the lives of 21 people in Tanta, Egypt on 9 April 2017 [İbrahim Ramadan/Anadolu]
Blood is seen on benches after a bomb went off inside a church which claimed the lives of more than 21 people in Tanta, Egypt on 9 April 2017 [İbrahim Ramadan/Anadolu]

At least 44 people were killed in Egypt in bomb attacks at the cathedral of the Coptic Pope and another church on Palm Sunday, prompting anger and fear among Christians and leading to troop deployments and the declaration of a three-month state of emergency.

Daesh 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 kilometres 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.

Read: Pope condemns terrorism and Egypt blast

The second, a few hours later 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.

Daesh said two of its fighters wearing suicide vests carried out the attacks, and it warned of more to come.

“Crusaders and their apostate allies should know the bill between us and them is very big and they will pay it with rivers of blood from their children, god willing. Wait for us, for we will wait for you,” the group said in a statement.

In a televised speech addressing the nation, Al-Sisi declared a three-month countrywide state of emergency, subject to parliamentary approval, and called for national unity and urged the media to refrain from coverage that could be harmful.

“Deal with the issue with credibility, and responsibility and awareness,” he said of the media coverage.

It’s not right what I’m seeing being repeated on all of our channels, and you know this hurts Egyptians.

Al-Sisi also ordered troops be immediately deployed to assist police in securing vital facilities, 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 Morsi.

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

Read: Church bombing in northern Egypt

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

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

“So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. US 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.

Daesh’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. Daesh later claimed responsibility for that attack.

Daesh 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 Daesh 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, one of whose nephews was 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?

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    Assyrian International News Agency– Churches attacked in Egypt after the coup in 2013, said to have been done by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (You can look these churches up on the internet)

    Province of Al- Minya

1. The Church of St Mina in Abu-Hilal, West district

2. The Baptist Church, Bani Mazar district

3. St. Mina Orthodox Church, Bani Mazar district

4. The Church of the Virgin, El-Gazareen St, Abu-Hilal district

5. St. Mary Orthodox Church, El-Gazareen St, Abu-Hilal district

6. The Coptic Catholic Church of St Mark, Abu-Hilal district

7. The Church of the Jesuit Fathers, Abu-Hilal distract

8. St. George Catholic Church, Delga village, Deir Mawas district

9. St. George Orthodox Church, Derhassa, Maghagha 

10. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Deir

11. The Evangelical Third Church, El-Nasarra
St, Abu-Hilal district

12. The Evangelical Church, Badeen
village, Samalout

13. The Evangelical Church , Malawi 

14. The Apostolic Church, the Medical
Centre and the Pasteur House, Eskander Farm 

15. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Malawi 

16. St Tawadros the Prince, Hosseni St,
Sednawi Square

17. St Moses Orthodox Church

18. St John Orthodox Church, El-Shok 

19. St Mary and St Abram archaeological
monastery, Delga, Deir Mawas district

20. St Mary Orthodox Church, El-Nazla
village, Youssef El-Sedeek City

Christian-owned properties/businesses etc. in Al-Minya

21. A ministry building belonging to St. Mina Orthodox Church , Abu-Hilal district

22. The burning of the house of Father Angelos Malek, the parish priest of St Mary and St Abram in Delga, Deir Mawas district 

23. A hall that belongs to Deir Mawas Diocese, Aswan Road

24. The Soldiers of Christ orphanage for boys

25. The Children Orthodox orphanage 

26. The YMCA 

27. The house of Priest Samuel Aziz’s of St Moses Orthodox Church 

28. St Joseph School and a nuns hall belonging to it

29. The Coptic Secondary School for boys, Hosseini St

30. Bon Pasteur School

31. The Jesuit Association

32. Priest Samuel Luka’s car, Parish priest of St Mary and St Joseph Church

33. Christian-owned houses and shops, Abu Qorkas, Malawi

34. ‘Al – Dahabbeya’ ship belonging to the Evangelical Church 

35. ‘The Mermaid’ cruise ship

36. Assassination of 60 year old Eskandar Tos Rezk


37. The Chaldean Basilica Catholic Church, St. Fatima, Heliopolis

38. St. Markorios Abou-Safain , El-Genena, Ezbet El-Nakhl 

Christian-owned properties/businesses etc. in Cairo

39. Bible Society, El-Gomhoria St

    Attacks on individuals in Cairo

40. Fawzy Moreed assassinated and others were injured Helwan

41. St George Orthodox Church, Kozzika


42. St Michael Orthodox Church, Kerdassa 

43. St Mary Orthodox Church, Kafr Hakim, Kerdassa

44. St Mina Orthodox Church, El-Omrania 

45. St Mary Orthodox Church , 10 St., Boulak El-Dakrour 

46. St Mary Orthodox Church, Kafr Abdou, 6th October City

47. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of St George 

48. St Mary Orthodox Church, Mansouria 

49. The Apostles’ Vine Monastery


50. The Church of the Two Martyrs, Soal 

51. St Mary Orthodox Church, El Saf 

52. St Shenouda Orthodox Church, El-Kom El-Ahmar 


53. The Church of St George, on Diocese premises 

54. The Church of the Virgin and St Abram 

55. The Church of St Mark and its services
building, Al-Kahraba St 


56. The Church of the Virgin Mary, Al-Nazlah village, Youssef Al-Sedeek district

57. St Demiana the Martyr Orthodox Church, Al-Zerbi village, Tamya 

58. The Evangelical Church in Al-Zerbi village, Tamya 

59. St Tadros El-Shatby Orthodox Church, Desya

Christian-owned properties/businesses etc. in Fayoum

60. The Youth Centre and the Bible Society located inside, Mansheyat Lotfallah

Beni Suef

61. St George Coptic Orthodox Church,
Wasta district

62. St Mary and St Abraam Orthodox Church and its hall for solace 

63. Abo Halaka Church, Tahta Coast

64. The Apostolic Church, and Christian-owned businesses – Kolta Street

Christian-owned properties/businesses etc. in Beni Suef

65. Christian-owned businesses, Kolta St

66. House of priest from St George, Wasta district

67. The Franciscan Nuns School


68. The Convent of the Good Shepherd and the attached school 

The Church of the Franciscan Fathers 23rd

    St Bon Pasteur Nuns Catholic Monastery – El-Gash St

The Evangelical Church – El-Gash St

The Greek Church in Suez

Christian-owned properties/businesses etc. in Suez

The Franciscan school , 23rd Street The school and hospital belonging to the Bon Pasteur Catholic Monastery 


St Mary Orthodox Church, Hod 10 


St George Orthodox Church, Arish


77. The Church of St Maximus, 45th

78. St George Orthodox Church, Bakous

on individuals in Alexandria

79. Assassination of Ramy Zakaria


80. Archangel Michael Church 

81. The Reformed Church 

82. St John Diocese, Qussiya 

83. St John Orthodox Church, El-Souk St., Abnoub

84. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of St Mary
El-Meharak Monastery 

85. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Abo-Teeg

86. St Therese Church 

properties/businesses etc. in Assiut

87. The Bible Society of Egypt 

Al Gharbeya Governorate

88. St Michael Orthodox Church, El-Hekma St., Tanta

89. St George Orthodox Church, Tanta

Kafr El-Sheikh Governorate

90. St Demiana Orthodox Church, Division 2, Kafr El- Sheikh