Three Days of Mourning After Explosion at Coptic Church in Cairo

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has declared a three-day period of national mourning after a bomb explosion on Sunday morning adjacent to the main hall of St. Mark’s Cathedral, the largest Coptic church in Cairo. Reports have at least 25 killed and 49 wounded thus far, in the largest attack on a Christian house of worship in Egypt since 2011.

The explosion took place in the women's pews of the chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul, attached to the Coptic cathedral in the capital’s Abassyia district. State media have reported that many among the injured and dead are Christian women and children. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.  Meanwhile, state officials are due to launch investigations. 

“I found bodies, many of them women, lying on the pews, it was a horrible scene,” cathedral worker Attiya Mahrous told the Associated Press.  

The attack has generated gatherings of angered community members asking for long-needed accountability and justice. William Stark, Regional Manager, for International Christian Concern (ICC) has made the following public statement: “We are shocked and devastated at the news of the latest attack against Coptic Christians in Egypt. We mourn for the families that have been destroyed by this bombing and condemn the people or groups responsible for it. This must come as a wakeup call to the Egyptian government and the international community that the Christian population in Egypt is in grave danger from religious attacks. Entire Christian communities have been assaulted by mobs of Muslim radicals on four separate occasions in 2016 because there was a rumor that a church was being constructed. Now, we have witnessed one of the worst assaults on Egypt’s Christian community in years. More must be done to protect Christians and their places of worship in Egypt.”

For more reports, see Aljazeera, BBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, Orthodox Christian Networkand The Washington Post.

nun reacts as Egyptian security forces work at scene of explosion, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, Cairo (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

nun reacts as Egyptian security forces work at scene of explosion, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, Cairo (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)