A terrifying video from inside a Coptic Christian church shows the moment a bomb exploded during Palm Sunday services killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens in the Egyptian city of Tanta.
The video shows worshipers at Saint George Church singing hymns before the blast. The explosion cuts the video feed, but screaming and crying can be heard in the background. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, along with a second bombing, carried out by an attacker with a suicide vest, at the Saint Mark Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt, on the Christian feast of Palm Sunday, which begins the Holy Week leading up to Easter. At least 11 people were killed in Alexandria, where police stopped the bomber from entering the church, authorities said.
You can watch the video from Tanta below:
The bomb was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall of the church, authorities said.
“Everything is destroyed inside the church and blood can be seen on marble pillars,” a witness, Peter Kamel, told CNN.
Susan Mikhail, whose apartment has a balcony view of the church, told the Associated Press, “Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes.” Mikhail said more seriously wounded were carried out and taken away in ambulances.
“There was blood all over the floor and body parts scattered,” a woman told Reuters.
“There was a huge explosion in the hall. Fire and smoke filled the room and the injuries were extremely severe,” witness Vivian Fareeg told Reuters.
Copts in Egypt are among the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East and have long been the target of discrimination and attacks, experts say. Those attacks have increased in recent years after Hosni Mubarak’s regime was toppled in 2011 and after President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013, CNN reports.
They make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 91 million people and base their theology on the teachings of the Apostle Saint Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt.
Last month, Amnesty International called on the Egyptian government to do more to protect Coptic Christians from a string of deadly attacks.
Amnesty International said Coptic churches and homes have been set on fire and members of the minority Christian group have been physically attacked and had their property looted.
“The government has failed to take action to protect Christians in North Sinai who have increasingly faced kidnapping and assassinations by armed groups over the past three years,” Amnesty International said. “The authorities have also failed to prosecute those responsible for sectarian attacks against Christians elsewhere in Egypt, resorting instead to state-sponsored reconciliation agreements which, at times, have involved the forced eviction of Christian families from their homes.”
After Sunday’s attacks, Egyptian leaders said they would continue to fight terrorism.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned the attacks, calling them an “outrageous” action that “targets both the Copts and Muslims of the homeland.” He said he investigaors would “hunt down the perpetrators and “take all measures to offer the necessary care for the wounded.”
“Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday,” Ahmed Abu Zeid, a spokesman for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign affairs, said on Twitter. “Another obnoxious but failed attempt against all Egyptians.”
Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the leading center of Sunni Islam, said in a statement he condemns the attacks and called them a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents,” Fox News reports.
Egyptian state-run news reported that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail will visit the Tanta bombing site on Sunday, according to Reuters. Al-Sisi has called for an emergency national defense council meeting.
“The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil, but will only harden their determination to move forward on their trajectory to realize security, stability and comprehensive development,” the Egyptian president said in a statement.
You can read more about the bombings at the link below: