Deadly blast hits church in Egyptian city of Tanta Staff | World | Ammon News

Deadly blast hits church in Egyptian city of Tanta Staff

[4/9/2017 5:40:23 AM]

AMMONNEWS - At least 25 people were killed and dozens injured following a bombing inside a church in Egypt's Tanta, north of Cairo, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Sunday.

The blast struck the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta as the Coptic Christian community marked Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar. It marks the triumphant entrance of Jesus to the city of Jerusalem.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the cause of the blast was not yet known.

Al Azhar, Egypt's leading authority has condemned the attack, describing the blast as a "crime against all Egyptians."

Provincial governor Ahmad Deif told state television that at least 42 people were wounded and that the explosion occurred inside the church.

"Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up," Deif said, adding that security forces had searched the church and surrounding areas for additional explosive devices.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 85 million. They have largely coexisted peacefully with the majority-Muslim public for centuries.

Last December, 25 people were killed and 49 wounded in an explosion that targeted the Cathedral of Saint Mark in the Abbasia district in Cairo - the city's largest Coptic cathedral.

A spate of militant-linked attacks in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula, including the murder of a Copt in the city of El Arish whose house was also burned, have led some Coptic families to flee their homes.

About 250 Christians took refuge in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya after ISIS released a video in February calling for attacks on the religious minority.

Egypt's army is waging a counter-insurgency against an ISIS affiliate in Sinai, which has claimed scores of attacks against police and army positions.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief helped the military to remove Morsi, defended his security forces in a televised address soon afterwards.

"(The attacks aim to) destabilize the fabric of Egypt... to give the impression that one group isn't protected as it should be," Sisi said at the time.

Pope Francis is due to visit Cairo this month to show solidarity with Egypt's Christian community.

The pontiff will visit the site of the December church attack next to Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral -- the seat of Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II.

*Al Arabiya

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