At least 45 people died when bombs went off in two church services yesterday morning – one in Tanta in the Nile Delta region and one in Alexandria. Both were timed to coincide with Palm Sunday celebrations – for maximum impact.
Please pray that God will comfort His people in Egypt, especially those in Tanta and Alexandria affected by yesterday’s attacks.
The first bomb went off inside St George’s Church in Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo. The explosion, near the altar, left at least 29 people dead, including the church leader and choir, according to a Release partner; 75 others were injured. That church was targeted by bombers last month, but on that occasion the device was found and defused.
In the second attack yesterday, a suicide bomber detonated his device outside St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, killing at least 16 people and injuring 33. The dead included security officials who caught the bomber trying to avoid the metal detector. Tawadros II, leader of Alexandria’s Coptic Church, was leading a Palm Sunday service in the cathedral but was reported to be unharmed.
A Release partner said last night: ‘May God have mercy on our country and may the prayers of the church beyond our borders be a source of strength to the Egyptian church, which [has] stood strong against persecution for 14 centuries.’
Islamic State (IS) has since claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attacks. Our partner believes that IS fighters recruited in Egypt and battle-hardened in Syria and Iraq are now returning to launch attacks on home soil. IS released a video in February calling on its followers to kill Egyptian Christians.
Nine Christians were brutally killed in the northern coastal city of al-Arish in North Sinai within ten days earlier this year, according to Release partners. Many Christians fled the area after IS warned the
m to leave or face being killed. Last December, an explosion in the chapel adjacent to St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo left 25 dead.
- Pray that God will comfort and bind up the broken-hearted and heal all those who have been affected physically and psychologically by yesterday’s attacks.
- Pray that God’s perfect love will drive out fear. Pray that God’s people in Egypt will look to Him for their strength and their hope.
- Pray that the Egyptian Government will step up its efforts to stamp out extremism and protect Egypt’s Christian minority.
(Sources: BBC: Middle East Concern; Release partner)