Foreign Ministry condemns Egypt bombings, says no M'sians affected

The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, and both bombings were said to have been timed to impact the greatest number of churchgoers.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a televised speech that a state of emergency will be declared after legal procedures are completed, saying the measure aims "to protect the country" and prevent terrorism from hurting the country's capabilities.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ordered military deployments across Egypt.

The first explosion, which left 27 people dead and 78 injured, ripped through a Palm Sunday service at Mar Girgis (St. George's) Coptic church in Tanta, a city located 120 km from Cairo.

The second, a few hours later in Alexandria, hit Saint Mark's Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 17 people, including three police officers, and injuring 48, the ministry added.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt's population of 85 million.

"It's kind of nothing new, sadly", a subdeacon of the church, Avram Wahba, said.

He also phoned Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences.

Pope Francis, who is set to visit Egypt later this month in a sign of solidarity with the country's embattled Coptic community, asked God to "convert the hearts of those who spread terror, violence and death".

According to Egypt's interior ministry, four police personnel were killed and 14 others were injured in the attack.

Pope Francis condemned the bombings, expressing "deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation".

A bomb at a Cairo cathedral that killed at least 25 people in December 2016, many of them women and children, was also claimed by IS.

Sisi announced the state of emergency nationwide for three months in a short televised address last night, following the blasts that targeted the minority Coptic Christians on Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar.

In a separate statement, the Security Council called the bombings "heinous and cowardly", and reaffirmed that terrorism was one of the most serious threats to global peace and security.

Palm Sunday falls on Sunday before the Easter.

The Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the explosions.

"It is so sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns it", he said.

The leader said: "Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organisations that tried to control Egypt". In February, scores of Christian families and students fled Egypt's North Sinai province after a spate of targeted killings.

  • Leroy Wright