Egypt declares state of emergency after Palm Sunday church blasts

The Palm Sunday attacks, the single deadliest day for Egypt's Christians in decades, rattled the community and prompted messages of support from overseas, including from Pope Francis, who is set to visit Egypt in the coming weeks, and Trump.

Egypt's Ministry of Health said 16 people were killed, including three police officers, and 41 injured.

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

CCTV footage showed a man with a blue jumper draped over his shoulders approach the main gate to the Alexandria church, however he was directed towards a metal detector by a security guard.

So far 11 people are dead and 66 wounded.

Israel meanwhile closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt after its anti-terrorism office warned of an "imminent" militant attack there, underlining fears of more violence.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"I heard the blast and came running". The more seriously wounded then were carried out by other survivors and taken to hospitals in private cars, she said.

The Alexandria church is the seat of the Coptic pope.

The blast occurred on Coptic Christian Palm Sunday, a Christian feast commemorating the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

The violence comes ahead of Catholic Pope Francis's first trip to Egypt later this month, which a Vatican official said will proceed as planned on April 28 and 29 despite the attacks. We know this is a big sacrifice but we are capable of facing it.

Egypt's Coptic Christian community makes up some 10 percent of the country's total population of 90 million.

The Coptic church in Egypt is almost as old as Christianity itself but has been greatly diminished over centuries of murder and repression.

A spate of jihadist-linked attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula, including the murder of a Copt in the city of El Arish, led some Coptic families to flee.

Trump condemned the attacks via Twitter and said he has "great confidence Sisi will handle the situation properly".

"Under Sisi we've seen that arrests and sentences also concern those who have no link with terrorist acts", he said.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted his condolences, saying: "We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today".

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres expressed the hope that the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice after a Security Council statement condemned the bombings as "heinous" and "cowardly".

Egypt's Copts have endured successive attacks since Morsi's ouster in July 2013.

Those attacks followed one of the deadliest on Egypt's Christian minority, when a suicide bomber hit its largest Coptic cathedral, killing at least 25 people.

The second struck outside Saint Mark's church in Alexandria, killing 17 people after a suicide bomber was prevented from entering the building.

  • Leroy Wright