At least 29 people were killed and around 78 were injured on April 9 after an explosion in a church during Palm Sunday service, Egypt’s Ministry of Health said.
The explosion happened at St George’s Coptic Church in the northern city of Tanta, 70 miles north of Cairo.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for a three-month state of emergency. The president also declared three days of national mourning following the attacks.
Video and pictures, reportedly showing the aftermath, show crowds gathered around the dead and injured and large blood stains are visible on the church pews and walls. General Tarek Atiya, a spokesperson at Egypt’s interior ministry, told AFP news agency that the blast took place near the altar.
Eyewitness Vivian Fareeg told Reuters:
“There was a huge explosion in the hall. Fire and smoke filled the room and the injuries were extremely severe. I saw the intestines of those injured and legs severed entirely from their bodies”.
“Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up,” provincial governor Ahmad Deif told state-run Nile TV.
A second explosion at the Cathedral of St Mark in Alexandria killed at least 17 people and injured 48.
Islamic State claimed responsibility via its Amaq news agency, saying: “A group that belongs to Islamic State carried out the two attacks on the churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.”
Earlier this month, a police officer was killed and 15 other people were injured after a bomb exploded near a police training center in Tanta. In December 2016, 25 people died when a bomb exploded at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo during a service.