Published: Mon, April 17, 2017
Culture | By Ray Hoffman

Egyptian cabinet approves state of emergency

The fear among many of Egypt's Coptic Christians is that the two suicide bombings which killed 44 people and injured more than 100 at churches on Palm Sunday are just a taste of worse to come in Islamic State's ongoing campaign.

Sunday's bombings, claimed by the Islamic State group, are the latest escalation by the extremist group - which recently vowed to step up its attacks against Egypt's embattled Christian minority.

The Palm Sunday attacks, the single deadliest day for Christians in decades, rattled the community and prompted messages of support from overseas, including from Pope Francis, who is set to visit Egypt in the coming weeks, and President Donald Trump.

Not long after that, at least 17 people were killed and 41 others wounded in a suicide bomb attack outside St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.

Egypt has declared a state of emergency after two devastating suicide bombings killed more than 40 victims and injured dozens more at churches on Palm Sunday, shaking a country already struggling with political turmoil.

The Palm Sunday attacks, the single deadliest day for Egypt's Christians in decades, prompted messages of support from overseas, including from Pope Francis, who is to visit Egypt on April 28-29. The first blast occurred near the altar inside of St. George's Church in Tanta, killing 27 people at worship.

FILE - People look at the aftermath following a bomb blast which struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Cairo, April 9, 2017. Egypt's police intercepted the bomber at the church gate, whereupon he blew himself up.

ISIS, which claimed responsibility, warned of more attacks in a statement.

The December bombing in a church adjacent to the Coptic papal seat marked a shift in IS tactics.

He said women were crying and looking for their loved ones and were yelling at police for "not protecting" them.

Copts in Egypt have faced persecution and discrimination that has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011.

"We pray for all those who hate us and we ask that God provide His guidance to them to enlighten their hearts and their minds to know the right way". "I would like security to be intensified", he told CNN.

Jerusalem: Israel closed its Taba border crossing to Egypt yesterday following a warning by its anti-terrorism office of an "imminent" militant attack there. Russia's President Vladimir Putin condemned the attacks and offered his condolences to Sisi, according to Russia's state-run Tass.

The measure took effect at 1pm, with Egyptian security forces blocking off streets and placing cordons around Egyptian churches.

Pope Francis will visit Egypt as planned this month despite the bombings, a Vatican official said. The United States played a "key role" in helping Jordan provide for more than 600,000 Syrian refugees, Abdullah said, according to the Jordan Times.

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