Hundreds gathered Monday to mourn 45
Egyptian Christians killed in jihadist
bombings just a week before Easter, after
Cairo declared a state of emergency
following the attacks on two churches.
The Islamic State group said it was behind
the twin bombings that targeted Palm Sunday
services at churches in the cities of Tanta
and Alexandria, and threatened further
attacks against Egypt's Christian minority.
Sunday's first bombing at the Mar Girgis
church in Tanta city north of Cairo killed
28 people, the health ministry said.
The second struck outside Saint Mark's
church in Alexandria, killing 17 people
after a suicide bomber was prevented from
entering the building.
AFP / STRINGER
Egyptian Christians during the late-night
funeral of victims of the Palm Sunday blast
at the Mar Girgis church in the Nile Delta
City of Tanta
The violence comes ahead of Catholic Pope
Francis's first trip to Egypt later this
month, which a Vatican official said will
proceed as planned on April 28 and 29
despite the attacks.
Mourners filled the Saint Mina monastery
west of Alexandria Monday as they bade
farewell to the victims of the deadliest
attacks in recent memory on Egypt's Coptic
- Combing for clues -
The victims' wooden coffins were placed near
the altar amid applause as mourners saluted
During the funerals, angry crowds denounced
the security services and Interior Minister
Magdy Abdel Ghaffar.
"Leave, leave, Abdel Ghaffar!" mourners
"I am a Christian till judgment day," they
In Alexandria on Monday, investigators
combed for clues and took pictures of the
debris produced by the blast.
A handful of black-clad women showed their
identification papers to guards before being
allowed to enter the church.
"I'm so sad, I cannot speak," said one
mourner, a woman in her 40s.
In addition to the death toll of 45 from the
two explosions, scores more people were
AFP / MOHAMED
Women mourn for the victims of the blast at
the Coptic Christian Saint Mark's church
during a funeral procession east of
Alexandria on April 10, 2017
In Cairo, the cabinet said it has
approved President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's
decision to declare a three-month state of
emergency, which was published on Monday in
the official gazette.
- State of emergency -
The measure took effect at 1:00 pm (1100
Constitutionally, it still has to be
presented to and approved by parliament
within seven days, but this is a formality
given the number of pro-Sisi delegates.
In another development, the interior
ministry said on Monday seven people thought
to be planning to attack Christians have
been killed in a gunfight in Assiut
Three of the seven dead were allegedly
planning to attack a monastery in Durunka
village and to target Christians in both
Assiut and Sohag provinces, the ministry
It did not say when the firefight took
US President Donald Trump called Sisi after
Sunday's church bombings to express his
condolences, Washington said.
"The President also expressed his confidence
in President Al Sisi's commitment to protect
Christians and all Egyptians," the White
House said on Monday.
In a defiant speech on Sunday, Sisi warned
that the war against jihadists would be
"long and painful" after he ordered the army
to protect "vital infrastructure" and boost
security along Egypt's borders.
The cabinet on Monday announced compensation
of 100,000 pounds ($5,500, 5,200 euros) for
each death, and a monthly pension of 1,500
pounds, while still evaluating "appropriate
compensation" for the injured.
Lawmakers said the state of emergency --
Egypt's first since widespread unrest in
2013 -- would help the country face down a
AFP / MOHAMED
Men mourn over the coffin of one of the
victims of the blast at the Coptic Christian
Saint Mark's church during a funeral
procession east of Alexandria on April 10,
IS has staged deadly attacks in the Sinai
Peninsula against security forces.
Copts, who make up about one tenth of
Egypt's population of more than 92 million,
have been targeted several times in recent
Jihadists groups such as IS, and Islamists
accuse Copts of supporting the military
overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed
Morsi in 2013, which ushered in a deadly
crackdown on his supporters.
AFP / MOHAMED
Mourners pray for the victims of the blast
at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark's church
in Alexandria during a funeral procession
east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017
In December, a suicide bombing claimed by
IS killed 29 worshippers in a Cairo church,
and the jihadist group later released a
video threatening Egypt's Christians.
Attacks in the Sinai, including the murder
of a Copt in the city of El Arish whose
house was also torched, prompted some Coptic
families to flee.
Sunday's Alexandria bombing was especially
concerning for the Copts, as Pope Tawadros
II had led the Palm Sunday service at Saint
Mark's but left before the explosion.
Sisi has defended the performance of his
security forces and accused jihadists of
trying to divide Egyptian society by
attacking vulnerable minorities.
However, rights groups accuse the former
army chief of crushing even peaceful
opposition to his rule.
The pro-state daily paper Al-Bawaba said on
its website that its Monday edition, which
was critical of security provisions, had
been banned from publication.