DOZENS KILLED IN CHURCH BOMBINGS
TANTA, EGYPT • Bombs that exploded at two Coptic churches during Palm Sunday services killing 43 people may mark the beginning of a new campaign of violence against the ancient Christian community.
Bombers managed to evade security measures to launch their attacks at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter.
In the first attack, a bomb went off inside St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said.
Television footage from Tanta showed people singing hymns before the bomb went off, then the screen went black and screams and cries could be heard. Priests and the church choir were among the casualties.
“Everything is destroyed inside the church” and blood can be seen on marble pillars, Peter Kamel told CNN.
“I ran to the church to find my lifelong friend shattered to pieces by the bomb,” said Mona Faiez, 61, who lives near the church and came running after she heard the blast. Her friend, Soliman Shaker, was a church deacon.
“What kind of human could do this and why?”
“I was at the altar when I heard the explosion. I fell to the ground,” said church steward Victor Foad.
On gazing upon the aftermath, he said: “I kept looking at the human remains, but I didn’t recognize who was who because their faces were so damaged, even though I know them.”
A few hours later, a suicide bomber rushed toward St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, killing at least 16 people and wounding 41, the Interior Ministry said.
Pope Tawadros II had held Palm Sunday services at the cathedral, but his aides said he had escaped unharmed. The timing of the attack raised the question of whether the bomber had sought to assassinate the pope.
The atrocities are the latest assault on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist terrorists
Fadi Sami, who had earlier been inside the cathedral, returned after the bombing. “There were bodies and body parts everywhere, outside and inside the gate. I saw a man put together what was left of his son in a bag,” he told CNN.
Eyewitnesses said t he Alexandria attack happened outside the main gate after the suicide bomber was blocked by police from entering. “When the police officer tried to stop him by force, he exploded the explosive belt, killing the police officer and himself,” said Kameel Sadiq Sawiras, secretary-general of the church council.
IF PEOPLE WHO ARE HERE SEEKING ASYLUM AND TREAT US LIKE THIS, IT IS NOT GOOD. SO NOW WE HAVE TO HAVE MORE SECURITY IN OUR SOCIETY, BUT STILL WE DON’T LIKE TO LIVE IN BUNKERS. — LARS HOLM, 73-YEAR- OLD STOCKHOLM RESIDENT