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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
Mawas 


    
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


    
Cairo


    
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


    
Giza


    
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


    
Atfih


    
50. The Church of the Two Martyrs, Soal 


    
51. St Mary Orthodox Church, El Saf 


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


    
Sohag


    
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 


    
Fayoum


    
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


    
Suez


    
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 

Qena


    
St Mary Orthodox Church, Hod 10 

Sinai


St George Orthodox Church, Arish


    
Alexandria


    
77. The Church of St Maximus, 45th
St 


    
78. St George Orthodox Church, Bakous


    
Attacks
on individuals in Alexandria


    
79. Assassination of Ramy Zakaria


    
Assiut


    
80. Archangel Michael Church 


    
81. The Reformed Church 


    
82. St John Diocese, Qussiya 


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


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


    
85. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Abo-Teeg


    
86. St Therese Church 


    
Christian-owned
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