The bombing hit the city's largest Coptic cathedral as worshippers celebrated Palm Sunday
10 April, 2017, 02:35
Sixteen people including three police officers were killed in that attack, which the interior ministry said was caused by a suicide bomber who blew himself up when prevented from entering the church. The attack took place at a Coptic Christian Church in Tanta, North of Cairo.
Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's population of 85 million.
An ISIS affiliate also claimed an attack on a Cairo church in December that killed around 30 people, and vowed more attacks on Christians.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi convened his security council in response to the attacks, and said those injured could be treated at military hospitals according to Sky News Arabia.
The first bombing, in Tanta, a Nile Delta city about 100 km 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.
Tawadros had been attending a mass at the church but a Coptic Church official said he had left before the blast.
The ministry said the explosion went off at Saint Mark's Church in Alexandria, where Pope Tawadros II had earlier celebrated Palm Sunday. The suicide bomber detonated a device outside the church as people were leaving.
Susan Mikhail, whose apartment balcony across the street has a clear view of the church and its front yard, said the explosion violently shook her building.
Egypt has seen a wave of attacks by militants since 2013 when the military toppled president Mohammed Morsi, an elected leader who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, and launched a crackdown against Islamists.
Egyptian Christians have repeatedly been targeted by jihadists including the Islamic State group.
Amnesty International later said more than 200 Christian-owned properties were attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged, adding that at least four people were killed.
"So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns".
ISIS has claimed responsibility for two attacks on churches in Egypt that were packed for Palm Sunday services, according to its news agency. The group released a video two years ago appearing to show a mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.
While it's unclear who attacked the church Sunday, Copts face persecution and discrimination that has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011.
While the Copts have stood steadfast alongside the government, an increase in attacks on Christians has tested that support.
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