Egypt president orders military protection of vital institutions after deadly church blasts

The first blast was in the northern city of Tanta, where a powerful explosion ripped through a Palm Sunday service at St. George's Church, killing 27 people and wounding 78 others, state TV reported. Security sources said the primary investigations suggest that a person put an explosive device inside the church during the Christian prayers celebrating the Palm Sunday.

According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, the suicide bomber had planned to detonate the explosive belt inside the church, but security forces stopped him before entering.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is "so sad to hear of the terrorist attack" against the US ally but added that he has "great confidence" that el-Sissi "will handle the situation properly".

"Let us pray for the victims of the attack unfortunately carried out today", he said.

Egypt's Christian minority makes up roughly 10 percent of the country's population, according to a recent estimate by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Egypt had been ruled for decades under a state of emergency, which was cancelled a month before Islamist president Mohamed Morsi took power in 2012.

"The United States will continue to support Egypt's security and stability in its efforts to defeat terrorism", the statement said.

Egypt state media says a bomb has gone off in a church in the Nile Delta, causing casualties.

She was aware they were targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt and elsewhere.

On 11 December a year ago, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the St Peter and St Paul's Church in central Cairo during prayer services, leaving 29 dead and more than 40 wounded.

The ministry said Tawadros was unharmed, and a church official said he had left before the bombing.

The Tanta attack drew condemnation from religious and political leaders across the globe.

At least 44 people are dead, and more than 100 injured in the suspected suicide bombings.

"This treacherous terrorism targets the nation with its citizens, both Copts and Muslims, and it will never break the determination of the Egyptians and their true will to confront the powers of evil", Xinhua quoted the Egyptian president as saying.

The pontiff was addressing the faithful during the traditional Palm Sunday mass at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City when he was notified of the attack.

About 250 Christians took refuge in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya after IS released a video in February calling for attacks on the minority.

The assault is the latest on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants, and a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect them as part of his campaign against extremism.

In February, Christian families and students fled Egypt's North Sinai province after a spate of targeted killings.

"So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns". Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb stressed Al-Azhar's solidarity with the Egyptian Church in the wake of attacks.

Wahby Lamie, one of whose nephews was killed and another injured in the Tanta blast, expressed exasperation.

  • Leroy Wright