Bombs blew up at Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday in a horrific scene in which one of the devices detonated near the altar.
Photos emerged of the carnage. Be aware that some of them are graphic. The radical Islamic jihadist group, ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the twin terrorist attacks against the Christian churches.
In the second attack, a suicide bombing, in Alexandria, alert police officers tried to stop the bomber from entering the Christian church where services were being held so the attacker blew himself up there, killing four police officers, according to BBC.
Thirteen people died in the blast outside St. Mark’s Coptic church in Alexandria. Another 29 people perished at St George’s Coptic church in Tanta, Egypt, reports BBC.
Palm Sunday is one of Christianity’s holiest days. Pope Francis released a statement after the tragedy, saying, in part, that he was asking 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.”
U.S. President Donald Trump condemned the attack.
Trump said he had confidence that the Egyptian president would handle the attack aftermath well.
The identity of the suspects had not been released.
According to Encyclopedia Coptica, the Coptic Church “is based on the teachings of Saint Mark who brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the first century, a dozen of years after the Lord’s ascension. He was one of the four evangelists and the one who wrote the oldest canonical gospel.”
Indeed, it was in Alexandria where Christianity started to spread throughout Egypt, when Saint Mark arrived in that Alexandria, the encyclopedia says. The evidence for that comes from “New Testament writings found in Bahnasa, in Middle Egypt, which date around the year 200 A.D., and a fragment of the Gospel of Saint John,” the encyclopedia says. The coptic church is more than 19 centuries old and was “the subject of many prophecies in the Old Testament. Isaiah the prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says ‘In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border.'”
According to Reuters, the bombings are the latest attacks on the Christian religious minority in Egypt by “Islamic militants.”
The Coptic Pope Tawadros, was at the Mass at Saint Mark’s Cathedral but was uninjured, Reuters reported.
According to CNN, ISIS’ news agency said a “security detachment” of the Islamic State was responsible for the bombings in Egypt.
CNN reports that the device in the Tanta bombing was “planted under a seat in the main prayer hall.”
Video of the attack at one of the churches shows the churchgoers singing hymns before screams break out.
Blood was reported on marble pillars inside one of the churches, which was severely damaged by the blast.
Amnesty International reports that Copts in Egypt have faced increasing persecution.
“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.
Here are some other photos of the tragedy from Getty: