Egypt president announces state of emergency after terror attacks

APTOPIX Egypt

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has promised to protect the Christian minority, but Copts in Tanta say security was nearly non-existent on Sunday despite repeated warnings in recent weeks.

Now the group is stepping up its attacks against Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population, by moving its activities from the Sinai to other parts of Egypt.

The Islamic State group claimed the bombings at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria cities as worshippers observed the Palm Sunday.

The second bomb hit Saint Mark's Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, in Alexandria, killing 17 people, including three police officers, and injuring 48, the ministry added.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Islamic authority in Egypt, issued a strongly worded statement condemning the attack.

Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch said el-Sissi "seems to think that more repression of all Egyptians is the simple answer to terrorist attacks".

"Deacons were the first to run out of the church".

Pope Francis marked Palm Sunday in St Peter's Square by expressing "deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation".

A day after the Palm Sunday bloodshed, the Interior Ministry said it killed seven Islamic State militants in an exchange of gunfire during a security operation in the southern city of Assiut.

Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement both condemned the bombings too.

Egypt-1
Egypt president announces state of emergency after terror attacks

The security forces have been put on alert in anticipation of more attacks, the Egyptian media reported.

Here's everything we know so far about the attacks.

Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, "cursed" the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.

Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a statement denouncing the attack on St. George Church.

The bombings add to fears that Islamic extremists who have always been battling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting their focus to civilians.

"We won't see a change on the ground, as this decision wasn't taken to give more powers or tighten control", said political analyst Yasser Abdel-Aziz.

Egyptian Christians have wept with rage as they buried their loved ones killed in two church bombings, furious at a state they believe will no longer protect them.

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.

IS has been waging a deadly insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and has claimed scores of attacks on security forces there.

Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.

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