Egypt in state of emergency after twin church bombings

Posted April 20, 2017

One of the deadliest attacks on the Christian minority in Egypt occurred last December, when a local Islamic State (IS, Formerly ISIS/ISIL) affiliate killed dozens of people in a suicide bombing in the largest Cairo Coptic Cathedral. The group that makes up around 10 percent of the country's 82 million population has been repeatedly targeted in the past.

"A series of steps will be taken, most importantly, the announcement of a state of emergency for three months after legal and constitution steps are taken", Sisi said, according to Reuters. A second blast struck the Egyptian port city of Alexandria three hours later, killing 18 and wounding 35. The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He went on to say: "There must be a strengthening of security to protect Christians within Egypt but there also has to be an avoidance of that kind of over-reaction that targets everybody as extremists and shuts everybody up". There has been no report of any Singaporean affected by the attacks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.

The attacks at St. George's Church in Tanta and at St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria also wounded more than 125 worshippers, Morning Star News reported, making the bombings more deadly than the 2016 Christmas bombing at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in suburban Cairo.

Sisi declared the "three-month" state of emergency, which he must present to parliament within a week, during a defiant speech warning that the war against the jihadists "will be long and painful".

"Israel sends condolences to the families of those murdered in the attack in Egypt and wishes for recovery for the injured", the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

"I was shocked to hear of the tragic bombing attacks on innocent Egyptians at places of worship in Tanta and Alexandria", Rivlin wrote.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt's Al-Azhar - the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam - condemned the attacks, calling them a "despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents".

US strongly condemns.' He said he has "great confidence" that President Sissi will handle situation properly.

"There was a serious security lapse in Tanta, but not in Alexandria", said Mohamed Sobhy, 33, an organiser of the funerals for those killed at Saint Mark's.

The bombings add to fears that Islamic extremists who have always been battling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting their focus to civilians.