Islamic State threats become reality, 45 killed today in Alexandria and Tanta

Bomb blasts tore through crowds celebrating the holy Christian holiday of Palm Sunday in two Egyptian cities, killing at least 43 worshipers and injuring scores more.

The blast at the church in Alexandria was caused by a suicide bomber who was stopped by police when trying to storm the entrance, said Egypt's interior ministry.

Earlier on Sunday, the USA embassy in Egypt condemned "the heinous, reprehensible terrorist attack against peaceful worshippers at Saint George's Church in Tanta on one of the holiest days of the Christian year".

"Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday".

The attacks came two months after the Islamic State released a video showing its militants pledging to kill Coptic Christians across Egypt.

After the attacks, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi ordered for the immediate deployment of military troops to protect vital facilities across the country, according to Reuters.

While victims were being transferred to ambulances, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both attacks on its affiliated media outlet Ammaq.

An ISIS affiliate also claimed an attack on a Cairo church in December that killed around 30 people, and vowed more attacks on Christians.

An explosive device was planted under the front seat of the St George Mar Girgis Church pews where it detonated in the main prayer hall, a security source said.

The bombings took place just weeks before Pope Francis of the Catholic Church plans to visit Egypt on April. 28.

"There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives", he said.

Officials said they have recovered 25 bodies, while 35 others who were injured were being treated at various private hospitals, according to the local health department, which sent staff to the church.

President al-Sisi condemned the attacks and summoned the National Defence Council to an urgent session.

Islamic extremists have repeatedly targeted Egypt's Christian minority in the past.

Egypt has failed to address a pattern of discrimination against Copts and rising incidences of sectarian violence, and those behind such attacks are not persecuted, Amnesty International said. It now seems to be changing tactics, targeting Christian civilians and broadening its reach into Egypt's mainland. Anyone who's different from them now is an infidel, whether they're Muslim or Christian.

Islamic State's branch in Egypt has stepped up attacks and threats against Christians, who comprise about 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million people and are the biggest Christian minority in the Middle East.

  • Leroy Wright