As Egyptian Christians headed to churches across the country to celebrate Palm Sunday, a deadly blast at Tanta’s Mar Girgis Church killed and injured dozens
Snapshot from state TV of parishoners at Mar Girgis after explosion
Ahram Online provides live updates on the deadly attack at the Mar Girgis Church in Tanta, Gharbiya which killed and injured dozens of Egyptian Copts on Sunday morning, as well as local and international reactions.
12:35 The health ministry in Gharbiya says the death toll in the Tanta church attack has risen to 25, and puts the number of injured at 71.
11:55 Security forces have started to question eyewitnesses about the attack, while securing surveillance cameras in the area in order to view video footage, with a view to quickly identify the attackers, a security official told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
11:40 Al-Azhar, the world’s highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, strongly condemned the attack, calling it an “outrageous crime” against all Egyptians.
“This terrorist attack is devoid of all the principles of humanity and civilization,” the Islamic body said in a statement, adding that “the aim of this cowardly terrorist bombing is to destabilize the security and stability of our dear Egypt and the unity of the Egyptian people.”
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb stressed Al-Azhar’s solidarity with the Egyptian Church in the face of terrorism and his great confidence in the ability of the security forces to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
11:35 Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail is heading to the scene of the attack.
“Egypt is determined to eliminate these terrorist groups,” cabinet spokesman Ashraf Sultan told state-owned TV channel Nile Live.
11:33 Political forces and activists have made calls for donations of blood to help the victims of the attack. Health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed told state-run TV that donations of blood are welcome, with one blood bank in Tanta and another in Cairo accepting donations.
Snapshot from state TV of ambulances and rescuers at site of explosion
11:21 The official Twitter account of Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman says: “Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday. Another obnoxious but failed attempt against all Egyptians #united_on_PalmSunday”
11:15 Khaled Megahed, the spokesperson for the ministry of health, told state TV the number of killed stands at 21 and 69 injured. Hospitals continue to receive the injured.
11:00 The General Prosecutor orders the formation of a prosecution team in Tanta to inspect Mar Girgis Church and conduct initial investigations, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
10:53 Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi orders the opening of military hospitals to treat those injured in the Tanta attack, according to Sky News Arabia.
10:48 The Ministry of Health says the death toll in the Tanta church explosion has risen to 21.
10:42 The explosion occurred in the main prayer hall of the church, with an explosive device planted under a seat, a security official told Al-Ahram Arabic website. Sixteen ambulances were sent to the scene of the explosion, with 40 injured people transferred to hospital.
10:35 A security source told Egyptian state TV an explosive device was planted inside the church.
An explosion ripped through the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the central Delta city of Tanta on Sunday morning as parishioners attended a Palm Sunday service, leaving dozens killed and many more injured.
Dozens were killed and injured in the blast, the Health Ministry said.
The explosive device was planted in the church before detonating, causing deaths and injuries, a security official told the state-run news agency MENA.
The explosion occurred as Christians across Egypt mark Palm Sunday at the start of Holy Week, which concludes with Easter Sunday on 16 April, during which Christians celebrate the Resurrection.
This is the second major deadly attack on a Coptic church in the past five months. On 11 December, 2016, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the St Peter and St Paul Church in central Cairo during prayer services, leaving 28 dead and more than 40 wounded. The Islamist State group claimed responsibility for that attack.