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Al-Sisi Visits Coptic Pope ‘to Contain Anger’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visits Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Cairo on Thursday. (AFP)

Cairo – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi pledged on Thursday to hunt down the perpetrators of last week’s twin church bombings as he visited Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer condolences for the victims.

Before the president’s visit to the papal seat in Cairo, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said it identified one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at the St. George Church in Tanta.

The Ministry said the Tanta suicide bomber was 40-year-old Mamdouh Amin Baghdadi. Baghdadi’s name was on a list issued by the ministry two days ago and which included the names of 19 people suspected of being involved in the attacks.

On Thursday, Al-Sisi’s visit was seen as an attempt to contain the anger among Copts following the two suicide bombings, which killed 45 people and injured hundreds. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

This week, the Pope moved his papal seat to the monastery at Wadi Natrun, known as the “political retreat” seat of popes. However, Pope Tawadros II cut off his “retreat” and returned to the seat in Cairo to welcome the Egyptian president.

The Coptic Church also said it would cut back Easter celebrations to a single mass after the bombings.

During their meeting on Thursday, Al-Sisi told Pope Tawadros II: “State agencies were exerting their utmost effort to chase down the perpetrators of those vile acts.”

The Egyptian president also ordered the armed forces to rebuild the two churches and reopen their doors to worshipers.

According to a presidential statement released following the meeting, Al-Sisi vowed that the state is determined in its fight against terrorism, adding that he is confident that Egyptians are aware of who is behind terrorism in the country and their intentions to divide the nation and undermine its development.

For his turn, Pope Tawadros II stressed that terrorism would not succeed in dividing Egyptians, adding that harmony and love are the only means to ensure the safety of Egypt.

Last Sunday’s bomb attacks in Egypt took place at the St. George Church in Tanta, north of Cairo and the Saint Mark’s Cathedral of the Coptic Pope in Alexandria.