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Separate Blasts At Egyptian Churches Kill 36

RFE/RL April 09, 2017

Two Coptic churches in Egypt have been hit by explosions that have killed 36 people.

The attacks came as Christians observed Palm Sunday.

A blast killed 11 people and injured 35 in front of a church in Alexandria, Egypt's Health Ministry said.

Egypt's Coptic Church said Pope Tawadros II had attended Palm Sunday Mass there, media reported.

The blast on April 9 occurred several hours after a bombing rocked another Coptic church in Tanta in Egypt's Nile Delta, killing at least 25 people and injuring 60.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the bombings.

"Islamic State squads carried out the attacks on two churches in Tanta and Alexandria," the group's self-styled Amaq news agency said in a statement published on social media.

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, and marks the start of Holy Week for Christians.

Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt's population and have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists.

"Coptic churches and homes have been set on fire, members of the Coptic minority have been physically attacked, and their property has been looted," Amnesty International said in March.

A bombing at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December.

Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt later this month, condemned the deadly attack while expressing his "deepest condolences" to all Egyptians and to the head of the Coptic Church.

The pontiff said he was praying for the dead and wounded in the attack.

He asked God "to convert the hearts of those who spread terror, violence, and death, and also the hearts of those who make, and traffic in, weapons."

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, condemned the attack, calling it a "despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and CNN

Source: coptic-church/28419140.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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