The Dallas Morning News

Christians bury bombing victims

Israel closes Sinai border, citing signs of terror attacks

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ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — Mourners gathered Monday to remember Coptic Christians killed in two deadly Palm Sunday church bombings as militant attacks continued in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel closed its Taba border crossing to those departing for Egypt after its anti-terrorism office warned of an “imminent” militant attack there.

The Israeli military said a rocket fired from Sinai later exploded in an open field, causing no injuries.

Intelligen­ce Minister Yisrael Katz said Israeli authoritie­s picked up signs that a potential “terror attack” was planned against tourists in the Sinai, home to several popular resorts on the Red Sea — and to a violent insurgency affiliated with the militant group Islamic State.

The Israeli border closure came hours before the start of the Passover holiday, when Sinai is a popular vacation destinatio­n for Israelis. It also comes before a scheduled visit by Pope Francis to Egypt to mend ties with Muslim leaders.

At least 45 Christian worshipers were killed and more than a hundred wounded during the Palm Sunday attacks at churches in Alexandria and Tanta, one of the worst terrorist strikes to rock Egypt in recent history.

Funeral services held overnight for the 28 victims in Tanta, about 50 miles north of Cairo, drew thousands. In Alexandria on Monday morning, thousands more mourners gathered to pray for the 17 killed there.

Victims’ relatives gathered in front of the altar during the funeral service Monday at the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. They cried, prayed and sang songs to celebrate Holy Week, known in Egypt as the “Week of Pain.”

George Gad said his sister survived the attack unscathed, but his family has lost their sense of security, and the state of emergency is not likely to restore it.

“It will not help. Plus, it will affect the country’s economy in a negative way,” said Gad, 58, a mechanical engineer, as he cried over the dead. “I would love for my sons to leave the country.”

Some of the young Christians leading the funeral procession also said they wanted to flee the country.

Mark Emad Naguip, 17, of Alexandria said he doesn’t feel safe.

“Society treats us as second-class people,” he said.

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