Egypt's Christians bury dead after IS church bombing

Egypt's Christians bury dead after IS church bombing

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least forty-four people dead. In the second attack - outside Saint Mark's Church in Alexandria - 17 people were killed after a suicide bomber was prevented from entering the building. It killed 16 people and wounded at least 47 others, according to Sharif Wadih, an aide to the country's health minister.

The seven militants were killed after they opened fire on security forces who approached them as they were meeting to plot further attacks on Christians, the ministry said in a statement.

He said women were crying and looking for their loved ones and were yelling at police for "not protecting" them.

These brutal and appalling attacks took the lives of many innocent people during a day of religious worship, and followed a similar senseless bombing of an Egyptian Coptic church in December 2016. Security at the New Jersey church is always in place, Ghabour said, but is heightened during holy days and feast days.

"It was awful; blood and body parts everywhere", he said.

Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's 91 million residents, but have little representation in the country's government - the current parliament is made up of 596 members, just 36 of whom are Christian. A bomb had been found and disabled at the church a week before, a police official told Reuters. It is crucial that these attacks be investigated and the perpetrators brought to Justice.

"It will never affect the determination of Egyptians and their true willpower to oppose the forces of evil. I have great confidence that President (el-Sissi) will handle the situation properly". Authorities said the Coptic pope for Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II, was inside leading the prayers but was not injured. "We are brothers and sisters and religion for God is Islam, but Christians are our brothers and sisters", said Nematalla from Cairo. Al Azhar has plans to host the pope during his visit.

"Down with any president as long as Egyptian blood is cheap", and "down with military rule!" they yelled.

From January 31, jihadists in North Sinai mounted a series of house-to-house and drive-by shootings in the coastal town of El-Arish after leafleting them with 24 hours' notice to leave or be killed.

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In a statement issued on the Telegram messaging platform and circulated by several ISIS supporters, the militant group identified the bombers as Egyptian nationals.

Security analysts said it appeared that Islamic State, under pressure in Iraq and Syria, was trying to widen its threat and had identified Christian communities as an easier target.

From now on, Christians will have to protect their churches themselves, rather than rely on the police, "because what's happening is too much".

He showed photos on his phone of the carnage: human remains, blood and shattered glass strewn across the floor of the church on one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar.

"Everything is destroyed inside the church", said Peter Kamel, who saw the aftermath of the bombing. For decades, Egypt's Copts have felt discriminated against by the country's Muslims, and assaults against them have intensified since the 2011 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

In New Jersey, Ghabour said the church of 2,000 worshippers is saddened by the attacks.

But George Mansoursaid he still felt safe.

IS said that two suicide bombers carried out the blasts.

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