44 dead, more than 100 injured in church bombings carried out by ISIS in Egypt
Egypt’s president called for a three-month state of emergency Sunday after at least 44 people were killed and more than 100 more were injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Coptic Christian churches, each carried out by the ISIS terror group.
Sunday’s first blast happened at St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, where at least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded, officials said.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both attacks in a statement via its Aamaq news agency, having recently signaled its intention to escalate a campaign of violence against Egyptian Christians.
The first explosion occurred about 9:30 at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during a Palm Sunday Mass. Security officials and a witness said that a suicide bomber had barged past security measures and detonated his explosives in the front pews, near the altar.
At least 27 people were killed and 71 others injured, officials said.
Hours later, a second explosion occurred at the gates of St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. That blast killed 13 people and wounded 21 others, the Health Ministry said.
Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
A local Isis affiliate group claimed a suicide bombing at a church in Cairo in December that killed around 30 people, mostly women, as well as a string of killings in the restive Sinai Peninsula that caused hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas of the country.
The Sinai-based Isis affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, but has also claimed bombings that killed civilians, including the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai in 2015, which killed all 224 people on board and devastated Egypt’s tourism industry.