President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered military hospitals to treat the injured. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. security forces had searched the church and surrounding areas for additional explosive devices. A visit of Pope Francis is scheduled to Egypt in weeks. The pontiff is to visit the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the grand imam of Al Azhar. Many ISIS claimed attacks in recent months targeted Christians in the country.
Christians are about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim. Jihadists and Islamists accuse them of supporting the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Palm Sunday is one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar, marking the triumphant entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem.
After the first attack, at St George’s Church in Tanta, where 26 were killed and at least 70 injured, a suicide bomb attack occurred outside Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria: 11 killed and 35 injured. In Alexandria, the Interior Ministry said in a statement that police assigned to St. Mark’s stopped a terrorist with an explosive belt from breaking into the church. Along with civilians, a policeman, a policewoman and other police staff were killed. Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II was inside the Church when the blast happened. He was not injured. Both attacks were claimed by ISIS using Amaq news agency. After President Donald Trump welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Washington and stressed his support for Cairo, a meeting Saturday between Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and a US congressional delegation led by US Rep. Darrell Issa addressed Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts and adopting a strategy to fight terror and encourage religious tolerance and acceptance of others.