Trump speaks with Egyptian president on church bombings

Another suicide attack killed at least 27 people inside St. George's Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

The head of Egypt's Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, was leading Palm Sunday prayers.

IS said that two suicide bombers carried out the blasts.

The explosion targeted the front rows in the church hall. Gen. Hussam Ad-Din Khalifa, director of security in Gharbiya Province where Tanta is located, when he tried inspecting the damage at St. George church.

Fadi Sami heard about the Tanta bombing during mass at St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. At least a dozen people were killed, and another 65 injured, in the latter attack.

Pope Tawadros, the leader of the Coptic church, was in the Alexandria cathedral holding Palm Sunday services at the time of the bombing but was unhurt, the interior ministry said.

The parliament has seven days to approve or reject the state of emergency, but its approval is seen as a foregone conclusion since the legislature is packed with el-Sissi's supporters.

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

"President Sisi.has made a decision to order the military to deploy protection units to guard vital and important infrastructure in all the republic's provinces", a statement from the presidency said. Two of those officers, a man and a woman, were killed, along with civilians and other police staff.

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.

Hours later, a suicide bomber killed at least 11 people and injured 25 in front of a church in Alexandria, according to reports.

IS has been waging a deadly insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and has claimed scores of attacks on security forces there. The mosque, which includes a Sufi shrine, is considered the second most important mosque in city, Al-Ahram Arabic reported.

ISIS, which claimed responsibility, warned of more attacks in a statement. He ordered the opening of military hospitals to receive the injured.

Nile and Masriya TV, Egyptian state outlets, aired black banners in the upper left of its newscasts to signify mourning for the victims of both explosions.

Al-Sisi expressed in a statement his strongest condemnation and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

"It was terrible; blood and body parts everywhere", he said.

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb stressed Al-Azhar's solidarity with the Egyptian Church in the wake of attacks.

The Chinese people will stand firmly with the Egyptian people and resolutely support Egypt's efforts in safeguarding national security and stability, as well as the fight against terrorism, he added. That didn't deter an estimated crowd of 2,000 congregants from attending Palm Sunday mass, the start of Holy Week before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. The Catholic community in Egypt numbers about 272,000, less than 0.5 percent of the population. In February and March over 355 Christian families were forced to flee their homes in Northern Sinai, after horrific killings of Copts by Islamists.

  • Leroy Wright