Christians targeted in Nile Delta blasts on Palm Sunday

A second blast has been reported near a church in northern Egypt, hours after at least 21 people were killed during a Palm Sunday service.

The explosion in front of a church in Alexandria has injured several people, according to state TV.

The earlier blast targeted St George’s Coptic church in the city of Tanta in the Nile Delta, about 130km south-east.

Egypt’s Christian minority has often been targeted by Islamist militants in recent years.

The blasts appear to have been timed for maximum impact, as people gathered to mark Palm Sunday.

Egyptian security forces had been put on alert in anticipation of attacks.

After the first explosion, provincial governor Ahmad Deif told the state-run Nile News channel: “Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up.”

General Tarek Atiya, a spokesperson at Egypt’s interior minister, told AFP news agency that the blast in Tanta took place near the altar.

A search is underway for any more explosives which could be in the vicinity.

Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt later this month, has condemned the attack.

Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral was damaged by an explosion in December

Violence against Coptic Christians has risen in recent years, especially since 2013, when the military overthrew the elected president and launched a crackdown against Islamists.

Some supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, blamed Christians for supporting the overthrow.

In December last year, 25 people died when a bomb exploded at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo during a service.

And in February, militants from the Islamic State group warned of more attacks against Copts, who make up about 10% of Egypt’s population.

The explosion occurred as Coptic Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

On 1 April, an explosion outside a police training centre in Tanta injured 16 people.

Source: BBC News

 

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