Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi has declared three days of mourning in Egypt following Sunday’s bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral, in the Abbasiyah district, which killed more than 30 people and injured more than 50.
Funerals for the victims, who included women and children, were held on Monday.
The funeral procession was led by Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who cut short a papal visit to Greece and returned to Cairo before heading directly to site of the bombing, Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper reported,
An improvised explosive device (IED) with 12kg of TNT caused the explosion, according to an Egyptian security official’s statement to state media.
The IED ripped through the church as hundreds of Copts, who make up 10% of Egypt’s population of over 80 million, were worshiping. Women and children were among the victims.
“Terrorism targets the country’s Copts and Muslims. Egypt will only be made stronger and more united in such circumstances,” Sisi said in a Sunday statement.
In the statement, the president vowed to hold accountable the assailants and put on trial all who have “incited, facilitated or participated” in the terrorist attack.
Sisi further described Sunday’s attack – as well as a Friday blast in Giza that left six policemen dead – as part of “a war against the great Egyptian people”.
The world’s oldest seat of Sunni Islamic learning Al-Azhar also condemned the attack.
Al-Azhar said that the targeting of houses of worship and the killing of innocents are “criminal acts that violate Islamic principles”.
“Such an attack would not stop people from standing united in the face of terrorism,” the Anglican Church in Egypt added, also denouncing the attack.
Jihadists in the restive Sinai peninsula have been carrying out an insurgency against Egyptian security forces since 2013 following the overthrow of ousted President Muhammad Morsi, the country’s first-ever democratically elected president, during a military coup.
Egypt has been battling a North Sinai-based Islamist insurgency since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The attacks have also targeted government institutions on the mainland, as well as Coptic Christians.
Several minor attacks targeting churches followed the dispersal of a pro-Morsi Rabaa El-Adaweya sit-in in 2013.
However, in 2011 as many as 23 people were killed in an explosion at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria.