Egypt beefs up security around churches ahead of Easter

The raid comes just days after bomb attacks on two Coptic churches holding Palm Sunday services in Egypt killed at least 44 people and injured more than 100 others.

In the neighboring city of Minya, home to the highest Coptic Christian population in the country, the Coptic Orthodox Diocese said that celebrations will only be limited to the liturgical prayers "without any festive manifestations", in mourning for Sunday's victims. Egypt prepared to impose a state of emergency after jihadist bombings killed dozens at two churches in the deadliest attacks in recent memory on the country's Coptic Christian minority.

In response Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency and promised to form a supreme council to combat terrorism and extremism.

The Copts trace their history to the dawn of Christianity, when Egypt was integrated into the Roman and later the Byzantine empire.

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.

The latest attacks occurred in St. George's Church in Tanta and St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria during Palm Sunday Services when the churches were packed with people.

Egyptians wheel away a body near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blast struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017.

The first explosion is reported to have taken pace at Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta, located about 60 miles from Cairo.

Further, the attacks can hurt Egypt as they come right at the end of a successful trip to the United States for the President.

The ministry said he was part of a terrorist cell, which was also behind the December attack on St. Peter and St. Paul Church in a Sunday mass.

The ministry said in a press statement that the suicide bomber was identified as Mahmdouh Ameen Bughdadi who was born on June 25, 1977 in Upper Egypt's city of Qena.

The Cairo-based Al-Azhar, an influential Sunni Muslim authority, said the attacks aimed to "destabilise security and... the unity of Egyptians".

The community has become the frequent target of Islamist groups around the country as well as Isis-affiliated militants in the Sinai, which have flourished in the chaos that has engulfed Egypt since the 2011 revolution.

  • Leroy Wright