Egypt's Christians bury dead after IS church bombings
Apr 10 2017 by Desiree Burns
Funerals are now taking place for victims in the same churches where they were killed.
Security analysts said it appeared that Islamic State, under pressure in Iraq and Syria, was trying to widen its threat and had identified Christian communities as an easier target.
"We ask that you convey our condolences to the grieving families, our prayers for a full convalescence to the wounded and our empathy to the Egyptian people", Edelstein wrote.
The first bomb exploded inside St. George's Church in Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said, overturning pews, shattering windows and staining the whitewashed walls with blood.
According to Egypt's constitution, parliament must vote in favor of such a declaration - a virtual certainty since the legislature is packed with supporters of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. The president also ordered three days of mourning for the victims.
"The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil", the President said in a statement.
Egyptian authorities are yet to confirm the bombers, despite ISIS claiming they are Egyptian nationals.
So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday.
"There was a huge explosion in the hall". The video then quickly switches to bars as harrowing screams and cries echo in the background.
Victoria Michell, whose father was killed in the attack, described a scene of horror when the explosive detonated. The choir was also dead on the floor.
"All I could think of was to find my wife, and all I could see was smoke, blood and completely charred bodies", the distraught 58-year-old said.
More than 30 people were killed, and 75 others injured, when a suicide bomber approached the altar of a historic Coptic church in Tanta, north of Cairo, and set up off device at the front of the church. He passed a female police officer talking to another woman, and entered a metal detector before an explosion engulfed the area.
"I am a Christian till judgment day", they shouted.
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"I will not abandon the church".
"Every church in Egypt just prepares for this", he added.
"It's hard to process this idea, that if I left 20 minutes later, I would have stopped to exist in this world", the 26-year-old Sami told CNN. "How could someone enter a church to do this?"
He said women were crying and looking for their loved ones and were yelling at police for "not protecting" them. "They are with God now".
Those who attended expressed anger at the lapse in security.
Copts have faced persecution and discrimination that has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011. Dozens have been killed in sectarian violence.
On Sunday, the group warned of more attacks and boasted it had killed 80 people in three church bombings since December. "The security was right at the door, but the attacker managed to get in anyway".
The Coptic church in Egypt is almost as old as Christianity itself but has been greatly diminished over centuries of murder and repression.
Lawmakers said the state of emergency - Egypt's first since widespread unrest in 2013 - would help the country face down a jihadist insurgency.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Cairo this month. A priest at St. George Coptic Orthodox Church served for years at one of the bombed churches.
Last week Trump hosted Sisi at the White House, signaling a break from the previous U.S. administration's view of the former general.
Trump condemned the attacks via Twitter and said he has "great confidence Sisi will handle the situation properly".
"So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns". In response to Sunday's attacks, President El-Sisi has declared a three-month emergency period and few other largely symbolic measures.