Date: April 9. 2017
By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)-- Suspected Islamic militants set off a bomb in a Coptic church north of Cairo that was packed with Palm Sunday worshippers, killing at least 21 people and more than 50 others officials and state television said Sunday, April 9.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the cause of the blast in the Egyptian Nile Delta city of Tanta, but it was the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt's Christian minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the population.
Christians and their churches have been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists. Sunday's attack comes just one week before Coptic Easter and the same month as Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.
Television footage from inside the church showed what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.
Magdi Awad, the head of the provincial ambulance service, confirmed the toll. A local Islamic State affiliate claimed a suicide bombing at a church in Cairo in December that killed around 30 people, mostly women.
The group also claimed a string of killings in the troubled Sinai Peninsula forcing hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas of the country.
A militant group called Liwa al-Thawra claimed responsibility for an April 1 bomb attack targeting a police training center in Tanta, which wounded 16 people, news reports said.
The group, believed to be linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, has mainly targeted security forces and distanced itself from attacks on Christians.
Chistians and other group say Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president, which also include kidnappings of especially Christian women and girls.