The Coptic Orthodox Church has issued a statement regarding the two
suicide bombings that took place on 9 April during Palm Sunday Mass at
the church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Tanta, and outside St Mark’s
cathedral in Alexandria after Mass concluded. Pope Tawadros II had been
presiding over Mass at St Mark’s. Official figures place the total death
toll at 45, and the injured at more than 100. Daesh has claimed
responsibility for the twin bombings. Among the individuals who lost
their lives was the police Lieutenant Colonel Emad al-Rakaibi who
supervised the security guards at St Mark’s, and the female police officer
Brigadier General Nagwa al-Haggar.
The Church statement said:
“It is with great pride and endearment that the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox
Church, the Church of Martyrs, parts with her children who were
martyred today Sunday 9 April 2017, during Palm Sunday Holy Mass.
They departed carrying palm fronds, praying and celebrating the entry of
Christ, the King of Peace, to the city of Jerusalem; He entered carrying a
message of peace, and promising love and peace to all human beings.
“The martyrs were slain by enemies of humanity, haters of peace,
perpetrators of destruction. Yet they now join the entire Church in prayer
to the just Judge who sees, hears, and writes all in His book of
“The Church also mourns the brave martyrs of our nation’s police, and
prays for God to heal the injured and to guard Egypt and all her people
against attacks of hatred that seek to destroy our nation and rip its human
fabric that forms its great heritage of unity, cohesion and co-existence.
“May God guard Egypt and her people against all darkness, spirit of
hatred, and harm.”
National mourning and state of emergency
President Abdel-Fattah Sisi condemned in strong words the terrorist
suicide bombings in two churches in Egypt this morning, and promised to
keep on fighting terrorism and defeating its attempts to divide the country
along religious lines. He ordered the armed forces to work with the police
and security forces to maintain stability, and declared a three-day national
mourning for the victims.
On Monday 10 April, the President declared a three-month state of
emergency to help the State battle terrorism. A supreme council to
counter terrorism and extremism has been formed.
President Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, and Pope Tawadros are
following closely on the investigations.
Interior Minister Magdy Abdul-Ghaffar dismissed Gharbiya's chief of
criminal intelligence security General Ibrahim Abdul-Ghaffar and
replaced him with General Ayman Sayed.
Last rites for martyrs
Prayers have been said for the martyrs yesterday and today. The Tanta
martyrs were buried in a collective tomb at Mar-Girgis’s, and the
Alexandria martyrs also in a collective tomb at the Monastery of Mar-
Mina, some 70km southwest Alexandria. Given that no funeral services
are held during the Pascha Week, the holy week that precedes the Feast
of the Resurrection, the rite is for the coffins to be placed in church
during Pascha service and a short prayer said for the dead.
Several bishops officiated for the last rites of the martyrs, as well as a
large number of clergy and family members and friends. Both churches
where the last rites were held were packed full of mourners.
The first of the suicide bombings took place during Palm Sunday Mass at
the church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in the mid-Delta town of Tanta,
100km north of Cairo.
The suicide bomber broke into the church and rushed up to the deacon
pews in front of the sanctuary where he blew himself up. Many of the
victims were thus deacons and altar boys. Eyewitnesses say the explosion
shook the place, and after that it was all screams, heavy dust, body parts
flying in the air, and blood all around. The blast took place next to the
bishop’s seat in the cathedral but the bishop was not present that morning.
A service was held for the martyrs at 10pm Sunday evening and they
were buried in a collective tomb that was prepared for them at the church.
The second suicide bombing took place at noon at St Mark's cathedral in
Alexandria after Palm Sunday Mass. Pope Tawadros II had been
presiding over Mass at the cathedral. After Mass was over, a suicide
bomber attempted to enter the cathedral but was stopped by the security
guards who insisted he pass through the electronic gate upon which he
detonated himself. The police officer who had tried to stop him, and two
policemen lost their lives.
Until the evening, Copts gathered around St Mark’s boisterously
protesting against the terrorist attack.
An explosion by a suicide bomber in al-Boutrossiya church in Cairo had
on 11 December 2016 claimed 29 lives. Daesh had claimed responsibility
for it and promised they would ‘wipe out’ Christians from off the land of
Reporting by Georgette Sadeq, Nader Shukry, Nasser Sobhy, Nevine
Kameel, Nash’at Abul-Kheir, Katrine Faragallah