Egypt Imposed a State of Emergency after suicide bombings in two different Egyptian cities at Coptic Christian churches killed 44 people and injuring more than 100 people.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the St. George’s Coptic church in the northern city of Tanta and the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.  Egypt’s President Abdel-Fatah el Sisi ordered troops to be deployed across the country following the incidents.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has imposed a three-month state of emergency, after the bombings during Palm Sunday services.  Egypt’s population is predominantly Muslim with about 10 percent of the population being Christians, mostly Coptic Christians.   The attacks constituted one of the deadliest days of violence against Christians in Egypt in decades.

Shortly before 10am, at the Mar Girgis church in the town of Tanta, a bomber managed to slip past security measures, including a metal detector, at one of the side doors, and blew himself up near the altar.  The blast killed 27 people and injured another 78 worshipers.  Just hours later, as worshippers gathered at St Marks Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria- a suicide bomber detonated a device as police were trying to prevent him entering the church. That blast killed three officers and 14 civilians, with 48 injured.

An Egyptian television station later aired surveillance footage  in the Alexandria bombing.  The footage showed a man wearing a bulky jacket being directed into a metal detector at the church gates, where he paused to be searched by a police officer. Moments later, a  blast rang out-sending debri into the busy streets.

Pope Tawadros II presided over Easter Mass late Saturday at St. Mark’s Cathedral but was not injured in the blast.  He later issued a statement saying that “these acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people.”  He is due to meet with Pope Francis during a planned visit to Egypt with the intent to spread a message of peace and unity, at the end of this month.

The bombings have spread fear throughout Egypt’s Christian community as Islamic extremists have increasingly focused many attacks on them.  In February, ISIS pledged further attacks on Christians across Egypt when claiming responsibility for the December bombing, causing an estimated 250 Christians to flee.  Since the 2011 revolution, Egypt’s military has been fighting ISIS militants in the Sinai Peninsula but these latest attacks show extremists are able to strike far beyond the Sinai.

Experts believe ISIS has been shifting to attacking Coptic Christians as a means of propaganda-to show that the Egyptian state is unable to protect them.  President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met with President Donald Trump in Washington just days before the attack.

 

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