Homeland Security

Two Blasts Strike Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday in Egypt, 49 Reported Dead

A victim is seen on a stretcher after a bomb went off at a Coptic church in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

See below for updates:

Terrorists have bombed two Coptic churches today in Egypt. The first blast was in Tanta in the Nile Delta, where 25-26 are reported dead.

In Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II was leading mass when a suicide bomber struck St. Mark’s church. Pope Tawadros has survived, but a police officer was killed along with several others worshipers.

This occurs just months after a suicide bomber targeted a church in the Coptic cathedral compound in Cairo last December that killed 29 — mostly women and children.

The Islamic State later took credit for the suicide bombing.

As I reported here at PJ Media in February, hundreds of Coptic Christians fled the Sinai after repeated attacks targeting their community.

Coptic Christians have been targeted across Egypt in recent months:

I will provide updates here as they are available.

UPDATE:

41 are now reported dead in the two blasts.

The first images of Pope Tawadros II, who was leading mass in the church in Alexandria during the suicide bombing:

A heroic policeman saved many lives there:

A map showing the locations of the bombings:

UPDATE 2: The Islamic State has claimed credit for the church bombing attacks

Video from the first church bombing in Tanta:

One of the martyrs from the bombing in Tanta:

https://twitter.com/NaderSamir98/status/851043685907267584

A father whose daughter was killed in the attack today:

In 2014 I attended the Easter service at the cathedral in Cairo. We had to go through six layers of security. Thanks to the Egyptian police and army who guard Egypt’s churches:

UPDATE 3: Ahram reports the current number of dead at 49 – 27 in Tanta, and 18 civilians and four police in Alexandria:

ISIS has promised more attacks:

Funerals for those killed in Tanta occurred last night. Funerals for the victims in Alexandria will be later today. The Coptic church does not conduct funeral mass during Holy Week, which will presumably occur next week.

https://twitter.com/degner/status/851124014663823360

This is video of the suicide bombing in Alexandria. You can see that the bomber is stopped from coming through the gate and directed towards the metal detector. When the detector goes off he is not allowed through, at which point he detonates his bomb with two female police standing directly beside him.

Another view of the Alexandria bombing:

The attacks on the Coptic Christian community have been part of the ISIS strategy:

In late February I reported here at PJ Media on the attacks on the Coptic community in al-Arish in the Sinai, prompting the mass evacuation of the community to cities across the Suez Canal.

And last August I chronicled by April 2014 trip into Upper Egypt to survey some of the 70+ churches and monasteries destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood in August 2013:

And it’s helpful to observe these attacks on the largest Christian community in the Middle East are not new developments:

https://twitter.com/Mokhtar_Awad/status/851065783434260480