Date: April 15, 2017
Exclusive to ASSIST News Service
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
CAIRO, EGYPT (ANS, April 15, 2017) -- Christians in Egypt suffered two deadly suicide bombings on Palm Sunday, killing 46 people and injuring more than 100 others.
ISIS (Islamic State - IS) said it sent suicide bombers to the two churches, one in Alexandria and one in Tanta.
“Egypt’s Christian minority makes up about 10 percent of the country’s population, according a recent estimate by the CIA. Roughly 9 million people have endured the recent attacks in that region, aggression that dates back centuries, usually at the hands of Muslim extremists,” said Jim Jacobson of Christian Freedom International (www.christianfreedom.org).
“Many of Egypt’s Christians are Coptic, a centuries-old sect influenced by the apostle and evangelist Mark, who is believed by many to have brought the teachings of Christ to that country in the first century A.D.,” Jacobson stated in a ministry update on CFI’s website.
Christian Freedom International’s co-worker in Egypt, who lost friends in the attack, sent the following exclusive eyewitness report in which the bombings are described.
The First Bomb
“The metal detector on the main door of the Cathedral wasn’t work and the security forces who were guarding the church allowed all people to enter the church without searching them. I myself entered the church and none of the police men who were on the church’s door searched me or asked me to show him my ID card to know if I’m a Christian or not,” a Christian eyewitness (name witheld) told CFI.
“The suicide bomber managed to enter the church because of this security defect and he then rushed up to the deacon choir in front of the sanctuary where he blew himself up. Many of the victims were thus deacons and altar boys,” the eyewiness told CFI.
“The explosion occurred at the middle of the mass about 9:00 am, it was a very huge explosion. The whole church became dark. White dust filled the church, and there were screams everywhere. The church was filled with the bodies of dead, body parts and the injured. Blood was splatted all over the place. Palm fronds stained with blood. Many icons were destroyed and the church pews were broken and destroyed,” the eyewitness recalled.
This past month security forces had dismantled a bomb outside the same church in Tanta.
The St. George Cathedral’s blast in Tanta resulted in the death of 35 Coptic Christians and the injury of more than 70 others.
A priest at St. George’s Cathedral in Tanta (name witheld) told CFI, “For the families of the martyrs, I want to say to them that we are sympathetic with all of you and we feel your pains and feel you strong faith. God is the only one who can comfort you. We ask God from our deeply hearts to comfort you and support you in this harsh trial.”
On Sunday evening, at 10:00 pm, a service was held for the victims at St. George Cathedral in Tanta. They were buried in a mass grave that was prepared for them at the same church.
The second suicide bombing occurred in front of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.
This suicide bombing took place after Palm Sunday Mass. Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, had been presiding over Mass at this cathedral.
The suicide bomber attempted to enter the cathedral from its main door as worshipers were leaving but one of the cathedral’s Christian guards, Naseem Fahmi, stopped him, and prevented him from entering the cathedral. Naseem asked him to pass through a metal detector first. The man entered the electronic gate, and when the detector whistled, he took a step back and detonated himself.
“Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, was targeted to be killed in this attack but Divine care saved him. If this suicide bomber had been able to enter the Cathedral the number of the victims would have been more because there were many worshiper in the church yard and were going to leave the church in this moment,” reported CFI’s coworker in Egypt.
The death toll from attack on St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, reached 17 (four policemen, two Muslims who were walking next to the Cathedral during the blast, and 11 Christians) with 41 injured, according to a health ministry official in the Alexandria governorate.
What You Can Do:
Christian Freedom International calls on Christians to pray for the Persecuted Church in Egypt. CFI works in Egypt and assists persecuted Christians with humanitarian aid, including sponsoring Christian children. CFI is collecting funds to give to the families of the wounded and martyred to help pay for medical costs and other needs. Your gift of any amount is urgently needed for Christians in Egypt today. Donate here: https://www.christianfreedom.
Photo captions: 1) Aftermath of the explosions. 2) Debris left on the wall after the explosions. (Both images provided by a CFI co-worker in Egypt) 3) Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.