Dozens killed in terrorist attacks at churches in Egypt

World Today

EGYPT-BOMBING-CHRISTIANSAn Egyptian uses his cell phone to take pictures of the destruction, debris, and bloodstains on the walls and icon murals inside the Mar Girgis Coptic Orthodox Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Cairo, at which a bomb blast struck worshippers gathering to attend the Palm Sunday mass, on April 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Bombs exploded at two Coptic churches in different cities in northern Egypt as worshipers were celebrating Palm Sunday, killing at least 43 people and wounding about 100 in an assault claimed by the Islamic State group.

Video footage Egypt says shows the suicide bomber responsible for one of Sunday’s church bombings.

CCTV footage shows moment of Alexandria church explosion

A video released by Egypt's Interior Ministry showed the moment a suspected suicide bomber attacked a Coptic cathedral in Alexandria on Sunday April 9th. CCTV images showed a man with a blue sweater tied over his shoulders approaching the main gate to St. Mark's and then being turned away by security and directed toward a metal detector. He passed a female police officer talking to another woman, and entered a metal detector before an explosion engulfed the area.

CGTN’s Yasser Hakim reports from Egypt.

Dozens killed in terrorist attacks at churches in Egypt

Egypt's President has called for a three-month state-of-emergency, following terrorist attacks at two Coptic churches. The targets: worshipers on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. ISIL claims responsibility. Both blasts were in the north. The first,in the city of Tanta. Not long after, another explosion in Alexandria. CGTN's Yasser Hakim reports from Egypt.

The blasts came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit the Arab world’s most populous country, which has been beset by extremist violence against its minority Christians.

Egypt‘s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said a three-month countrywide state of emergency would be imposed, subject to parliamentary approval.

In a televised speech addressing the nation, Sisi called for national unity and urged the media to refrain from coverage that could be harmful.

In the first attack, a bomb went off inside St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said.

A few hours later, a suicide bomber rushed toward St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, killing at least 16 people and wounding 41, the Interior Ministry said.

CCTV images broadcast on Egyptian channels showed a man in a blue pullover approach the main gate to St. Mark’s but being turned away and directed toward a metal detector.

The man then passes a female police officer chatting to another woman, and enters a metal detector before an explosion engulfs the area.

Pope Tawadros II had held Palm Sunday services at the cathedral, but his aides said he had escaped unharmed.

The timing of the attack raised the question of whether the bomber had sought to assassinate the pope, leader of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

IS claimed the attacks via its Aamaq news agency, after having recently warned that it would step up violence against Egypt’s Christians.

Egypt’s Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.

They have long complained of discrimination and that the government does not do enough to protect them.

The bombings added to fears that Islamic extremists who have long been battling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting their focus to civilians.

Story by The Associated Press, Reuters, and CGTN.