The services mark the Stations of the Cross
CAIRO - Egyptian Copts observed a solemn
Good Friday with prayers and fasting, as the
community reeled from two church bombings
that killed dozens on Palm Sunday.
The government had declared a state of
emergency and called in the army to protect
"vital" installations following last week's
suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic
But in a reminder of sectarianism Copts
often complain about, police officials said
Muslims fought with Christians who tried
praying in an abandoned home in a southern
village on Thursday then set fire to four
Police reinforcements were sent to the
town in the province of Minya, they said.
On Friday, Copts attended churches across
the country to commemorate the day they
believe Jesus Christ was crucified.
The services mark the Stations of the
Cross, representing the Biblical account of
the cross-bearing Christ as he was led to
his crucifixion and burial.
The rites were especially mournful for
the Christian minority following last
Sunday's suicide bombings at churches in the
cities of Tanta and Alexandria which killed
45 people, Coptic Bishop Kirillos told AFP.
"With these incidents we are now living
with Christ in his pain," he said.
On Saturday, the Orthodox will mark
Easter, with Coptic Pope Tawadros II leading
services in Cairo's Saint Mark's Cathedral.
The church had announced it would scale
back Easter celebrations to a simple mass in
the wake of the bombings.
"Given the current circumstances and our
solidarity with the families of the dead, we
are going to limit our celebrations to
Easter mass," it said in a statement.
"There will be no decorations in churches
and the rooms normally reserved for the
reception of worshippers wishing to exchange
season's greetings will remain closed," an
official at the Coptic patriarchate said.
The violence came ahead of Catholic Pope
Francis's first visit to Egypt, which a
Vatican official said will go ahead as
planned on April 28 and 29 despite the
Copts, who make up about one tenth of
Egypt's population of more than 92 million,
have been targeted several times in recent
In December, an Islamic State group
suicide bomber struck a Cairo church,
killing 29 people.