International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that on December 11, 2016, an explosion in the main hall of St. Mark’s Cathedral, the largest Coptic Church in Cairo, killed at least 25 and wounded more than 50.
The blast took place during Sunday morning mass in the chapel adjoining the main hall of the cathedral. Many among the injured and dead are Christian women and children.
“The church bombing was planned and carried out meticulously. The explosion took place in the pews of the women,” Mena Adel, a church member, told ICC. “I think that someone seized the opportunity of overcrowding Copts who were entering the church and was able to enter the church among them and put the bomb under the church pews and then went out.”
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According to reports, the blast was caused by a device containing at least 12 kg (26 pounds) of TNT. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamic State militants celebrated the bombing on social media outlets after the fact.
“I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews, it was a horrible scene,” cathedral worker Attiya Mahrous told the Associated Press.
The attack, which was the worst attack on Egypt’s Christian community in years, has sparked outrage and anger within the Christian community. Many gathered immediately following the attack to express their demands for justice.
“Either we bring their (the victims’) rights back or die like this,” protesters said near the scene.
State officials are launching immediate investigations into the attack while President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has declared a three-day period of national mourning.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We are shocked and devastated at the news of the latest attack against Coptic Christians in Egypt. We mourn for the families that have been destroyed by this bombing and condemn the people or groups responsible for it. This must come as a wake-up call to the Egyptian government and the international community that the Christian population in Egypt is in grave danger from religious attacks. Entire Christian communities have been assaulted by mobs of Muslim radicals on four separate occasions in 2016 because there was a rumor that a church was being constructed. Now, we have witnessed one of the worst assaults on Egypt’s Christian community in years. More must be done to protect Christians and their places of worship in Egypt.”
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