Christian worshippers speak of horrific scenes
Eyewitness: I heard the
blast and came running. I found people torn
up... some people, only half of their bodies
'They came to pray and they died'
ALEXANDRIA - Coptic Christian worshippers
in Egypt spoke of horrific scenes on Sunday
after a bomb ripped through their church
during a service, mangling bodies and
"There was a violent explosion near the
altar," Edmon Edward said.
"Suddenly everything became black, people
flew over each other," he said.
He had been attending Palm Sunday mass at
the Mar Girgis church in Tanta with his
brother Emil, who stood with a white bandage
wrapped around his head, when the attack
claimed by the Islamic State group happened.
The explosion killed at least 27 people, and
was followed hours later by a second bombing
at a church in Alexandria, which killed 17.
At the church in Tanta, icons of Christ and
St George looked down on a tangle of
destroyed pews and congealing blood on the
"I head the blast, and then I saw a woman
run barefoot with her face oozing blood,"
said a taxi driver who asked not to be
In hospital, a wounded witness told state
television: "I just felt fire grabbing my
face. I pushed my brother who was sitting
next to me and then I heard people saying:
Nabil Nader, 65, who lives opposite the
church, spoke of the attack's aftermath and
said the first three rows of pews in the
church were destroyed.
"I heard the blast and came running. I found
people torn up... some people, only half of
their bodies remained," he said.
"The father of a friend of my son was in the
front row," he said, his voice breaking with
anguish. "We found only his shoe."
Nearby, a man held up a burned prayer book
and a traditional braided palm-leaf
crucifix, stained with blood.
"They came to pray and they died," he said.
"The victims were destroyed," said Mohammed,
a nursing student helping at the hospital
were the victims of the attack were taken.
"Some are broken up inside. Some are
completely burned," he said.
- 'Oh Lord, have mercy' -
Police sirens wailed incessantly around the
city as ambulances ferried victims to
Security forces cordoned off the church, but
residents who gathered nearby were unable to
hide their anger.
Despite the presence of metal detectors, the
bomber was apparently able to enter the
building without any hindrance.
"How was the bomb able to enter, while
police" were outside the church, asked Nagat
Assaad, holding back tears.
"What are the detectors for? We don't want
There were similar scenes in second city
Alexandria after the attack there.
Several hours after the attack, a Coptic
woman expressed her anger at police blocking
access to the church.
"What's the use of closing the street now?
You should have done it before the
explosion!" she said.
Dozens of Copts gathered near the scene,
brandishing wooden crosses and chanting "Oh
Lord, have mercy".
Shards of glass littered the street and
pavement outside the door where the suicide
bomber activated his explosive belt.
Hussein, a salesman in a shop opposite the
church who witnessed the Alexandria blast,
said he was "blown over by the shockwave"
and fell to the ground.
Egypt's Copts, who have suffered repeated
deadly jihadist attacks, say they feel
abandoned and discriminated against by the
authorities in the predominantly Muslim
But despite their fears, the Christians of
Tanta said they are determined to defend
"We're Christian and we will stay
Christian," one woman said in a defiant
Middle East Online