A bomb blast close to the Coptic cathedral in Egypt’s capital has killed at least 25 people, and injured many more.
The explosion at St Peter’s church comes just after twin blasts in Istanbul, Turkey, which have killed 38 people and injured an estimated 166. Turkey’s blasts went off on Saturday night outside a football stadium, while the explosion in Cairo appeared to be timed to cause maximum devastation at the time of church services.
Horrifying images from che Cairo blast show St Peter’s, which is next to St Mark’s cathedral, covered with blood, clothing and scattered furniture. One terrifying witness said that she had seen a woman who had lost her head in the blast being stretchered away. She added: “Everyone was in a state of shock. There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”
Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who were targeted in the blast make up around 10 per cent of the country’s population. Coptic Christians have long complained that they face discrimination at the hands of Muslims. St Mark’s Cathedral is base for Egypt’s Orthodox church and home to the church leader Pope Tawadros II. It is understood that interior minister Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar and Cairo’s security chief both has already both rushed to the scene of the bombing.
The latest bomb follows not just blasts in Turkey, which are being blamed on Kurdish rebels, but also an explosion in Giza when six policemen were killed in a blast on a road leading to the pyramids. That explosion was targeted at a police checkpoint, with the militant group Hasm saying it was behind the blast. Three years ago, two people were killed in violent clashes outside St Mark’s cathedral as people gathered to mourn the death of four Coptic Christians.