The EU has expressed its condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s terrorist bombing at Cairo’s Coptic cathedral during a Sunday mass (11 December). The EU said that “the attack has exacted a terrible toll of civilian deaths and injuries and sadly it is not the first terrorist attack in recent days, following two other bombings in different parts of the country“.
A bomb blast wounded at least 49 people and killed at least 25 in St Peter’s Church close to the main Coptic Christian Cathedral at around 10 am local time. St Peter’s Church is close to St Mark’s Cathedral, which is the seat of Egypt’s Orthodox Christian church and home to the office of its spiritual leader, Pope Tawadros II. Approximately a tenth of Egypt’s 82 million populations are Christians.
According to a state-run TV, a bomb was lobbed inside the church, although there are some witnesses saying that the bomb was planted inside the church itself. “I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews. It was a horrible scene,” said cathedral worker Attiya Mahrous. Many of the victims are women and children who were worshipping in the smaller church as the Coptic cathedral is being renovated.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that the bombing was a terror attack that has no place in Egypt. No extremist group immediately claimed responsibility, although the Islamic State (ISIS) supporters celebrated the bloodshed on social media. Exiled Brotherhood leaders and homegrown militant groups condemned the attack. According to Mohamad Elmasry, an associate professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, “[the attack] represents the continuation of a cycle of violence that has continued unabated since Egypt’s July 2013 military coup”.