- By Jabbar Ismaeel
At least 32 people have been killed and 71 injured in explosions in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria
At least 21 people have been killed in an explosion inside a Coptic religious building in the Egyptian Nile delta city of Tanta, local authorities confirm, as state television say another explosion killed 11 in front of a second Coptoc venue in Alexandria.
The first attack occurred in the Coptic hall of Mar Girgis, which was packed with worshippers.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the cause of the blast was not yet known.
Egypt’s state television reported that at least 50 people were wounded.
Most recent Ministry of Health update: Dead 32 | Injured 71
Several hours after the bombing in Tanta, another explosion hit in front of Saint Mark’s Coptic hall in Alexandria, killing at least 11 people, the Egyptian health ministry confirmed.
Media reports said another 21 people were wounded in the attack, which state TV said was a suicide bombing.
Mahjoob Zweiri, associate professor at Qatar University, told the press that Tanta has seen several attacks in the past.
“The area and Coptics both have witnessed such accidents before. There is a good percentage of Coptics in this area.” Zweiri said.
“I believe when there are such religious events in the country, authorities should take security measures into consideration as there are always chances of attacks.” he added.
Timothy Kaldas, non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said the attacks were designed to create sectarian strife.
“It is alarming to see a specific religious group being targeted, which is going to rattle the Coptic community and many Egyptians in general.” Kaldas added.
The bombings were the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt’s Coptic minority, who make up a little over 10 percent of the population officially and have been repeatedly targeted by armed groups for a variety of political causes over the years.
A bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic hall killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December 2016, in the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Coptic minority in years.
Coptics are an orthodox form of Eastern-Christianity with elements of Islam incorporated into their practices, whilst retaining the original and fundamental practices of their Aramaic scriptures. They follow the Georgian calendar not the Julian calendar followed by Christians with slightly different festivals and different dates for those they share. Unlike Christians who celebrate Christmas on the 25th December, Coptics celebrate it on the 7th of January, the only Christian countries follow this are Russia (7th January) and Spain (6th January).
Notable populations of Coptics exist in:
1. Montenegro 74% [followed by Islam]
2. Serbia 63% (including Kosovo) [followed by Islam]
3. Ethiopia 44% [Majority Islam]
4. Lebanon 40% [Majority Islam]
5. Macedonia 33% [Majority Islam]
6. Syria 11% [Majory Islam]
7. Egypt 10% [Majority Islam]
8. Croatia 3% [Majortiy Catholic]
9. Islamic Federation of Bosna i Hercegovina 3% [Majority Islam]
10. Iraq 1% [Majority Islam]
11. Palestine 1-11% [Majority Islam] (figure unverifiable)
12. Turkey 0.2% [Majority Islam] (officially Turkey is a non-religious secular state)
Other significant populations exist in Sudan, all North African nations, USA, Canada, Russia, Kenya, Jordan, UAE, Australia, New Zealand and the EU.
There was a long standing war between the Christians, Coptics and Muslims throughout the 1990s and early 2000s in the Balkans resulting in the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Genocides.
Oman has given support and condolences to Egypt in light of the attacks in Alexandria and Tanta. Oman has lead a large group of Middle-Eastern nations in condemning the attacks and offering support to Egypt which officials from Oman referred to as “Our Sister”.
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