Egypt: 21 dead in Coptic Church blast

At least 21 people were killed and dozens more injured in Egypt on Sunday in a blast at a church in the northern Nile delta city of Tanta.

Local media says an explosive device was placed under a seat in the main prayer hall of St George’s Coptic church, where worshippers had gathered for a Palm Sunday service, ahead of Easter.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Egypt’s Coptic Christians have regularly been targeted by Islamist militants.

The local branch of so-called Islamic State in Egypt, which has waged a low-level conflict for years in the Sinai peninsula, has stepped up attacks on Christians in Egypt in recent months.

In December, a bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49, many of them women and children, in what was the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in years. ISIL later said it was behind the bloodshed.

Egypt’s Christian community has felt increasingly insecure since ISIL spread through Iraq and Syria in 2014, ruthlessly targeting religious minorities.

In 2015, 21 Egyptian Christians working in Libya were killed by the jihadist group.

The latest blast comes ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, planned for the end of the month.

Tanta was also the site of another attack earlier this month when a policeman was killed and 15 were injured after a bomb exploded near a police training centre.

with Reuters