The European Union expressed its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of Sunday’s (9 April) attacks on the Coptic churches in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria. The attacks happened on one of the holiest days for Christians all over the world, Palm Sunday. They left at least 44 dead and the Islamic State claimed responsibility.
“Crusaders and their apostate allies should know the bill between us and them is very big and they will pay it with rivers of blood from their children, god willing. Wait for us, for we will wait for you,” the ISIS said in their statement. The jihadist group further said that the blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers – one targeted St George’s Coptic church in Tanta, leaving 27 dead. A few hours later, police stopped another suicide attacker from entering the St Mark’s Coptic church in Alexandria but he detonated his explosives outside, claiming 17 lives, including several police officers.
Egyptian President Abdul al-Sisi announced a three-month state of emergency to allow the authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people’s homes. The ISIS has targeted Copts in Egypt recently – most recently, in December 2016, 25 people died when a bomb exploded in a Coptic church in Cairo during a mass. Mr. Sisi said that the war against the jihadists would be “long and painful” and added that the state of emergency would come into force after it is approved by the parliament. The attacks came just before Pope Francis is expected to visit the country in support of Egyptian Christians who constitute about 10 percent of population.