Terrifying moment one of two ISIS suicide bombers detonates outside Egyptian church after being turned away by three hero policemen in Palm Sunday massacre that killed nearly 50 Christians
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Worshippers celebrating Palm Sunday were targeted by ISIS terrorists with suicide bombs
- At least 27 people were killed in Tanta while a further dozen died in Alexandria earlier today
- Three officers died at St Mark’s Cathedral while preventing bomber from entering church
- Egyptian President El-Sissi has decided to declare a state of emergency for three months
This is the moment an ISIS suicide bomber detonated outside an Egyptian church after being turned away by three hero policemen in the second of two attacks that killed more than 45 Christians and wounded 100.
CCTV shows the fanatic, dressed in a blue pullover, approaching the gate at St Mark’s in Alexandria but being told to go through the metal detector first by officers.
He then passes a female police officer talking to another woman, and enters a metal detector before an explosion engulfs the area.
The atrocity, which followed another attack in Tanta, was thought to have been aimed at Pope Tawadros II, leader of the ancient Coptic church, who was worshipping in St Mark’s at the time but escaped unharmed.
The dead officers were named as Ahmed Ibrahim, Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar and Emad El-Rakiby.
The blasts, claimed by Islamic State, came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit the Arab world’s most populous country.
Egyptian President El-Sissi has now declared a state of emergency for three months.
Under the country’s constitution, Sisi will have to put the measure before parliament, which is stacked with his supporters, for approval within a week.
Sisi announced the ‘state of emergency for three months’ in a defiant speech at the presidential palace after a meeting of the national defence council.
In the first attack, a bomb went off inside St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said.
The attack on St. Mark’s Cathedral, in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, happened a few hours later and killed at least 16 people and wounding 41, the Interior Ministry said.
Isis claimed the attacks via its Aamaq news agency, after having recently warned that it would step up violence against Egypt’s Christians.
CBC TV showed footage from inside the church in Tanta, where people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.
‘After the explosion, everything became dark from the smoke,’ said Edmond Edward, attending services with his brother, Emil, who was wounded and leaned on him for support at a nearby hospital.
Regional police chief Brig. Gen. Hossam Elddin Khalifa was fired over the incident, with Maj. Gen. Tarek Hassouna replacing him, state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported.
President Donald Trump tweeted that he is ‘so sad to hear of the terrorist attack’ against the U.S. ally but added that he has ‘great confidence’ that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, ‘will handle the situation properly.’
The two leaders met at the White House on April 3.
Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar – the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam – also condemned the attacks, calling them a ‘despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.’
Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighboring Gaza condemned the bombings as well.
The bombings added to fears that Islamic extremists who have long been battling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting their focus to civilians.
An Isis affiliate claimed a December suicide bombing at a Cairo church that killed about 30 people, mostly women, as well as a string of killings in the northern Sinai that caused hundreds of Christians to flee.
The militants recently released a video vowing to step up attacks against Christians, whom they regard as ‘infidels’ empowering the West against Muslims.
Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.
The Sinai-based IS affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, but has also claimed bombings that killed civilians, including the downing of a Russian passenger jetliner in the Sinai in 2015.
This killed all 224 people onboard and devastated Egypt’s tourism industry.
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