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Massive blast kills dozens of worshippers at Egypt church Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Massive blast kills dozens of worshippers at Egypt church

Rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of failing to protect the embattled Christian minority [Twitter]

Date of publication: 9 April, 2017

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Scores of people were killed on Sunday when bomb blast went off inside a church in the Egyptian city of Tanta north of Cairo.

At least 27 people were killed on Sunday when bomb blast went off inside a church in the Egyptian city of Tanta north of Cairo.

Some 50 people were also wounded in the blast, which struck as Egypt's Coptic Christian community marked Palm Sunday, state media and local sources said.

Medical officials in Tanta announced that at least 27 people were killed and 78 injured at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church.

A source at the site told The New Arab that dozens of people were killed and around 50 injured and that the "massive blast" had taken place inside the church as it was packed with worshippers.

Local media showed images from inside the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.

A video shot in the aftermath of the attack showed panicked worshipers fleeing the vicinity of the church. Alleged surveillance footage showed the moments just before the explosion went off. 

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for bombings of the two Egyptian churches.

"Islamic State squads carried out the attacks on two churches in Tanta and Alexandria," said the group's Amaq news agency in a statement published on social media accounts.​

Just over a week ago police dismantled a bomb that had been planted in the same Tanta church, local media reported at the time.

     
      Copts make up about one tenth of Egypt's population [Twitter]

Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt's population of more than 92 million and who celebrate Easter next weekend, have been targeted by several extremist attacks in recent months.

A bombing carried out by the Islamic State group at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December, many of them women and children, in the deadliest attack on Egypt's Christian minority in years.

A spate of IS-linked attacks in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula, including the murder of a Copt in the city of al-Arish whose house was also burned, have led Coptic families to flee their homes.

About 250 Christians took refuge in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya after IS released a video in February calling for attacks on the religious minority.

A militant group called Liwa al-Thawra claimed responsibility for an April 1 bomb attack targeting a police training centre in Tanta, which wounded 16 people.

Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.

Rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of failing to protect the embattled minority.

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