Date: April 9, 2017
< Islamic State claims responsibility for two church attacks
<Dozens killed in blasts
By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)-- The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for bombings that killed at least some 43 people and injured many more at two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, one of the most important days on the Christian calendar.
One powerful blast rippled through the Palm Sunday service at a Coptic Christian church in the northern Egypian city of Tanta, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Cairo, killing 27 people and wounding at least nearly 80 others, officials and state media said. The explosive device at St. George Coptic church in Tanta was planted under a seat in the church, where it reportedly detonated in the main prayer hall.
Hours later, a suicide bomber set off an explosion outside the main Coptic church in Alexandria, St. Mark’s Cathedral, killing at least 16 — including three police officers — and injuring at least 41 others, the Health Ministry and other sources said.Egyptian state media also reports that the head of Egypt's Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II was inside the Church when the blast happened.
The attacks in the Egyptian Nile Delta city of Tanta and Alexandra are 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 many were killed. 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.