At Least 32 Killed and Dozens Injured as Two Palm Sunday Services in Egypt are Bombed
ISIS Attacks on Christians in Egypt Continue to Escalate
04/09/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least 32 Christians celebrating Palm Sunday were killed in bombings at two Coptic Churches in northern Egypt, dozens more were injured in the blast as well.
The first explosion occurred at 9:30 a.m. in St. George’s Church, located in the city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo. According to multiple reports, an explosive device was planted under a seat in the church located in the main prayer hall, killing at least 21.
“The church was full of people because of the celebration of Palm Sunday,” Bishoy Nady, an eyewitness, told ICC. “I was sitting on the last bench of the church. During the middle of the mass, the bomb went off in the first benches of the church. It was a huge explosion. The church became dark and there were screams everywhere.”
“There were many dead bodies [and] body parts and injures,” Nady continued. “The blood splattered all over the church. At least 26 people were killed and more than 70 were injured in this church blast.”
Hours after he bombing of St. George’s Church in Tanta, another explosion was reported in front of St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria, killing another 11. Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, was reportedly leading mass at St. Mark’s Church when the bombing took place.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, commonly know as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on its Amaq website. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Egypt’s Christians have been the victims of ISIS attacks.
On December 11, 2016, a suicide bomber attacked the small church of St. Peter and St. Paul attached to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral located in Cairo. As a result of that attack, 25 Christians were killed, mostly women and children, marking the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christians in modern history. Eventually, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing and promised more attack in the future.
In February 2017, hundreds of Christian families living in El-Arish, a city located in the Sinai Peninsula, fled their homes after a series of killings targeting Christians. Starting on January 30 through February 23, seven Christian men living in and around El-Arish were targeted and murdered by masked men. During the height of the killings, an ISIS affiliate operating in the Sinai promised to eliminate the Christian minority, claiming Egypt’s Christians were the group’s “favorite prey”.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Christian families affected by these deadly attacks. No one should have to fear senseless violence like this for just attending a church service. These bombings represent the second and third church bombings Egypt’s Christians have had to endure in recent months. Action must be taken by Egypt’s authorities to secure the country’s Christian communities and their places of worship, especially as we enter Holy Week. Unless decisive action is taken, attacks like these will likely continue.”