Given the magnitude of both outbreaks, the authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming hours and days
Two terrorist attacks with explosives that took place today against Coptic Christian churches in northern Egypt and claimed by the Islamic State left at least 37 dead and 138 wounded people.
The second of the attacks occurred shortly after noon in the Egyptian Orthodox Saint Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, killing 11 believers and wounding 66 others.
According to Angelious Izhaq, secretary of the Coptic Pope, Tawadros II, who at the time of the explosion was inside the temple, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest on the outskirts of the building.
According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, the suicide bomber had planned to detonate the explosive belt inside the church, but security forces stopped him before entering.
Hours earlier the detonation of an explosive device in the Coptic Church of St. George in the city of Tanta, also in northern Egypt, killed 26 people and wounded 72 others.
Security sources reported that the makeshift artifact exploded in the first rows of temple seats.
Given the magnitude of both outbreaks, the authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming hours and days.
Following the events, the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, convened an emergency meeting of the National Defense Council.
The injured were transferred to civilian and military hospitals in Tanta, while the Attorney General of Egypt ordered the opening of a process of investigation.
The onslaught against Saint Mark’s Cathedral is the third of great magnitude against the Christian community in Egypt. On December 11, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Cairo, where 28 persons lost their lives and more than 40 were wounded.
The Islamic state later claimed the terrorist act, announced plans to attack the Christian community in Egypt and promised to ‘free Cairo’ from citizens of that faith.
Subsequently, in February, Islamic fundamentalists carried out eight attacks on Christians in the town of El Arish in northern Sinai where three Coptic citizens were killed.
Such events triggered an exodus of Christians from the Sinai to other Egyptian cities.