04/10/2017, 10.48
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Attacks on Egypt’s churches, what really happened

by Loula Lahham

The toll is of 43 dead and 114 wounded in the two attacks. A lot of the faithful want to bury the dead in the church's crypt. Daesh claims the attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood is complicit. President Al-Sisi declares a three-month state of emergency


Cairo (AsiaNews) - Two separate terrorist attacks have brought death and despair to the Coptic community in Egypt. The first attack was carried out in the church of Mar Guirguis, Tanta. The second explosion occurred in the church of St. Mark in Alexandria, while the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II was celebrating Palm Sunday. 24 hours on from the bombings the details of the tragedies are emerging more clearly.

Mar Guirguis Church in Tanta - In the middle of the Mass

A few hours after the explosion that hit the church of Mar Guirguis, leaving thirty dead, witnesses begin talking and the details of the tragedy gradually emerge.

9:10. A woman faints at the right of the altar, on the women’s side. Two priests stoop to help her.

Meanwhile, a young man about 20 years old wearing a cap and a jacket, despite the warm weather, enters the church and goes directly to the front row, next to the bishop’s large wooden chair. While the group of deacons, outside on the left of the altar, are singing, the young man activates his explosive belt. And everything is blown up.

The first victims are the deacons and the faithful in the front rows. The toll is 30 dead and 78 injured.

The interior minister removes Gen. Hossameddin Khalifa, director of security, and several senior police officers in the governorate of Gharbiya, where the city of Tanta is located, from their posts. Ten days before, and in this same place, experts had dismantled a bomb, which had targeted the church itself. The minister will appear today before the parliament to present his version of events.

Finally, work is underway for the construction of thirty graves to bury the dead in the church's crypt. "We want to bury them where they died", the leaders of the church decided with the approval of the Amba Paula, bishop of the diocese.

St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria - The Mass finished Pope Tawadros saved

The events differ from the first, but the number of victims is still high.

The church has an electronic gate and metal detectors. The security is on high alert because pope Tawadros presides at the same mass. A man tries to enter the church. The security officer asks him to pass through the electronic gate, a few meters away. The man tries to pass and sets off the detectors. He stops, takes a step back, activates his explosive belt. The blast hits 17 people, including several police officers, while 41 other people were injured.

Daesh claims the attack, Al-Sissi addresses Egyptians

The Islamic State (Daesh), official press agency Aamaq has claimed responsibility for the two explosions yesterday. At the same time observers indicate that the Muslim Brothers are accomplices.

After the attack, President Al-Sissi expressed his condolences to Pope Tawadros by phone, decreed three days of national mourning and ordered the deployment of several army units to help the police to protect churches in this week's celebrations. The President was present at the emergency meeting of the National Defense Council, in the evening, and declared a national state of emergency for the next three months.

Testimonials of bloodshed

Daniel, one of the pastors of the church of Mar Guirguis in Tanta, waking the body of his son, one of the deacon,  remains silent his white robe still covered in bloodstains.

An anonymous online comment

One day every Christian will be a victim of terrorism and violence, or a witness.

Rezk Helmy Kelnton

I saw blood stains on the church roof, 30 meters high. And I saw a man with his intestines pouring out of his body. Hands and feet scattered everywhere.

Isaac, host of CTV

Total of the victims of the two attacks: 43 dead and 114 wounded.

Spokesman of the Ministry of Health, 19:35

I came running from another neighborhood looking for my daughter. She had decided to attend Mass on Palm Sunday at St. Mark’s. When I heard the sound of the explosion, I went crazy with worry.

Madeleine, housewife

I saw a blue light on the belt of a person who was next to the deacons, then the explosion took place. In addition to the casualties, it knocked out a large number of faithful.

Adel Kamel Morcos, senior citizen

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