Cairo church bomb­ing kills 25

Kuwait, Amir con­demn at­tack

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A bomb blast tore through a church near Cairo’s Cop­tic cathe­dral dur­ing a ser­vice yes­ter­day, killing at least 25 peo­ple in the dead­li­est at­tack in re­cent mem­ory on Egypt’s Chris­tian mi­nor­ity. There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ing but Cop­tic Chris­tians, who make up about 10 per­cent of Egypt’s pop­u­la­tion, have been pre­vi­ously tar­geted in attacks. At least 31 peo­ple were also wounded in the blast, the health min­istry said, as the at­tack drew con­dem­na­tion from po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious lead­ers and led Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi to de­clare three days of na­tional mourn­ing.

The bomb­ing hit around 10:00 am at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church, which is ad­ja­cent to Saint Mark’s Cathe­dral, the seat of the Cop­tic pope Tawadros II. A bomb made of 12 ki­los of TNT ap­peared to have been be­hind the ex­plo­sion, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said. The blast shat­tered the church’s glass win­dows and scat­tered pews through the main prayer hall, scorch­ing its mar­ble pil­lars. Blood­stains could be seen on the floor, where shoes and other be­long­ings lay scat­tered.

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of con­do­lences yes­ter­day to Sisi, ex­press­ing his deep­est sym­pa­thies for the vic­tims of the blast. The Amir voiced Kuwait’s ve­he­ment con­dem­na­tion of such crim­i­nal acts that threaten Egypt’s se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, and wished those wounded in the at­tack a speedy re­cov­ery. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah sent ca­bles of sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments to the Egyp­tian pres­i­dent.

The Kuwaiti govern­ment also voiced ve­he­ment con­dem­na­tion of the “ter­ror­ist” blast. An of­fi­cial source at the foreign min­istry said in a state­ment that such “ter­ror­ist” acts would never un­der­mine Egypt’s re­solve to fight ter­ror­ism res­o­lutely. The source re­it­er­ated that Kuwait stands by Egypt in its fight against ter­ror­ism, and sup­ports all its se­cu­rity mea­sures to pre­serve its se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity. The source of­fered heart­felt con­do­lences to Egypt’s lead­er­ship, govern­ment and peo­ple over the vic­tims of the church ex­plo­sion, and wished swift re­cov­ery to those in­jured in the blast.

“I was leav­ing the church and then I heard a loud ex­plo­sion and there was a lot of smoke and peo­ple started run­ning and scream­ing,” Jack­line Ab­del Shahid, one of the sur­vivors of the blast, told AFP at the scene. “The am­bu­lances started com­ing, and they kept bring­ing out body parts. The floor was cov­ered in blood, and the whole church was stained with blood, bro­ken glass ev­ery­where, every­one scream­ing, torn clothes,” she said.

Ge­brail Ebeid, who has been headed to ser­vices when the bomb­ing took place, ac­cused Egypt’s govern­ment of not do­ing enough to pro­tect the Chris­tian com­mu­nity. “This is the govern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity. The ex­plo­sion hap­pened in­side the church,” said Ebeid. “Where were the se­cu­rity forces? They’re filling the streets now, but it’s too late,” he said. Sev­eral dozen peo­ple gath­ered out­side to protest af­ter the bomb­ing, chant­ing for the res­ig­na­tion of Egypt’s in­te­rior min­is­ter. They briefly scuf­fled with po­lice as they tried to push through the cor­don.

It was the worst at­tack on the Cop­tic Chris­tian com­mu­nity since a 2011 sui­cide bomb­ing killed more than 20 wor­ship­pers out­side a church in the coastal city of Alexan­dria. “This lat­est at­tack should be a wake-up call to the au­thor­i­ties that their ac­tions to pre­vent attacks on Cop­tic Chris­tians have long been in­ad­e­quate,” Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said in a state­ment.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Magdy Ab­del Ghaf­far rushed to the area af­ter the blast and Prime Min­is­ter Sherif Is­mail called on se­cu­rity ser­vices to quickly find those re­spon­si­ble. “The na­tion’s Mus­lim and Chris­tian cit­i­zens stand to­gether against this black ter­ror­ism,” Is­mail said in the state­ment. Sisi con­demned what he de­scribed as “the ab­hor­rent ter­ror­ist at­tack”, say­ing in a state­ment: “Egypt will only emerge stronger and more uni­fied from these events. ”The pres­i­dent also called the pope to of­fer his con­do­lences.

Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the head of Egypt’s top Sunni Mus­lim au­thor­ity Al-Azhar, said the “vile ter­ror­ist ex­plo­sion” was “a great crime against all Egyp­tians”. The church that was tar­geted “is deeply loved by many Cop­tic faith­ful in Cairo and it has a reg­u­lar parish pres­ence,” said Bishop An­gae­los, the Gen­eral Bishop for the Cop­tic Church in Bri­tain. He said ser­vices had been held in the church on Sun­day morn­ing, while Saint Mark’s Cathe­dral was be­ing ren­o­vated. “It’s an eas­ier tar­get be­cause its en­trance is out­side the precincts” of the cathe­dral.

— AFP

CAIRO: Pro­test­ers shout slo­gans as they gather out­side the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Cop­tic Ortho­dox Church in the Ab­basiya neigh­bor­hood af­ter it was tar­geted by an ex­plo­sion yes­ter­day.

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