21 killed in Egyptian church on Palm Sunday terror attack
At least 21 people were killed and dozens wounded on April 9 when a bomb went off inside a church at Tanta, a city in Egypt.
The victims are Coptic Christians who were observing Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Tanta, local media reported.
A medical official at a hospital in Tanta, the Egyptian Nile delta city, said at least 13 people were killed.
The blast struck around 10:00 am local time (1:30 pm Indian time) in the city, which is about 120 km north of Cairo the national capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the cause of the blast was not yet known. Palm Sunday is one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar, marking the triumphant entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem.
Provincial governor Ahmad Deif told the channel 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.
Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt’s population of more than 92 million and who celebrate Easter next weekend, have been targeted by several attacks in recent months.
Terrorists and Islamists accuse them of supporting the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, which ushered in a deadly crackdown on his supporters.
In last December, a bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49, many of them women and children.
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 counter-insurgency attack 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.
Following Morsi’s ouster, mobs attacked dozens of churches and Christian properties.
Pope Francis is due to visit Cairo on April 28-29 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.
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