A bomb blast at a church in Tanta, a town north of Cairo, has killed at least 21 and injured more than 60 during a Palm Sunday mass.
The explosion targeted the Mar Girgis Coptic Church just before 10am local time. Palm Sunday is one of the holiest days on the Coptic calendar.
Provincial governor Ahmad Deif told local news that the bomb went off inside the church:
“Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up.”
— breaking-news (@UrgentNews5) April 9, 2017
Several hours later, a second explosion struck near Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria, a city on Egypt‘s coast. Local media is currently reporting the death toll as 11, with 21 wounded.
These are the latest attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt. Copts make up about 10 per cent of the Egyptian population, and have been regularly targeted in the past.
Timothy Kaldas of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy told Al Jazeera that the attacks seemed intended to sow discord among sectarian groups:
“It is alarming to see a specific religious group being targeted, which is going to rattle the Coptic community and many Egyptians in general.”
Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt in just a few weeks, has condemned the attacks.
Image: Anadolu Agency / Getty.