Cairo- At least 44 people were killed and 126 were injured Sunday in two suicide bombings at the cathedral of the Coptic Pope and another church in Egypt.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the two bombings, which came two days following the US attack at the Shayrat air base in Syria to stop the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons against its people.
Sunday’s blasts also came five days after the successful visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Washington and three days ahead of the expected visit of Pope Francis to Egypt.
Immediately after the bomb attacks at the St. George Church in Tanta, north of Cairo, and the Saint Mark’s Cathedral of the Coptic Pope in Alexandria, Sisi ordered troop deployments and the declaration of a three-month state of emergency.
Egypt’s Health Ministry said 27 people were killed and 78 were injured in the St. George Church attack, while 17 others were killed, including 4 police officers, and 48 were wounded in the vicinity of the Coptic Pope church, where Pope Tawadros had been leading the mass at the time of the explosion.
The Coptic Church said he was not harmed.
The bombings sparked a wave of Arab and international condemnations.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Sisi, and asserted the Kingdom’s support to Egypt and its sisterly people against whoever attempts to tamper with its security and stability.
An official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry also expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the two bombings and said “these cowardly acts of terrorism are contrary to all religious principles and moral and humanitarian values.”
Later on Sunday, the UN Security Council condemned the bombings and described them as “heinous and cowardly terrorist attacks.”
The Egyptian stocks fell on Sunday, hurt by the country’s blasts, while most Middle East stock markets also ended lower, as geopolitical tensions weighed on investor sentiment.