At least 25 worshipers were killed and 49 wounded by a bombing during Mass in Cairo Sunday. The attack was at St. Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church, adjacent to the Grand Cathedral of Saint Mark, the seat of Pope Tawadros II. The Coptic leader was traveling in Greece.
Most of the victims were women and children, said Coptic World, a Christian website. The structure of the building was also severely damaged, the site said.
Pope Francis, at the Vatican, said in his Sunday Angelus address, “I want to express my special closeness to my dear brother, Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and to his community, praying for the dead and injured.”
“Our prayers are with those whose lives have been so senselessly ended, those who have been injured, and every family and community affected,” Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. “We also pray for every Coptic parish and community across Egypt as they fill their churches this morning, as well as for the broader Egyptian society that fall victim to similar inhumane attacks.”
Egypt’s official MENA news agency said an assailant threw a bomb into the church. But witnesses said the explosion may have been caused by an explosive device planted inside the church.
The attack, which occurred toward the end of Divine Liturgy, came two days after a bomb elsewhere in Cairo killed six policemen. That assault was claimed by a shadowy group that authorities say is linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, according to the Associated Press. No one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack. Suspicion immediately fell on Islamist extremists, including Egypt’s Islamic State branch, who have staged numerous attacks across the country this year targeting soldiers, police and government officials, said the Washington Post.
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