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ISIS Claims Responsibility For Church Bombings In Egypt

ISIS has claimed responsibility for two church bombings in Egypt that occurred on April 9, Palm Sunday.

At least 43 people died in the two bombings, with more than 100 others wounded, the Associated Press reports. The first attack took place at St. George's church in Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding more than 70, according to officials. The second explosion occurred at Saint Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria after Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic church, had finished service; at least 16 people died and 41 were wounded.

ISIS took responsibility for the attack in a statement made via its Aamaq news agency. It had previously said it would step up attacks on Egypt's Christians, referring to them as infidels that empower the West against Muslims.

Footage of the aftermath of one of the bombings was obtained by the AP and Tanta Egypt. It shows men in gloves sorting through rubble on the floor of the church that is covered in blood, and plastic bags with unknown material lined up on a church pew.

Susan Mikhail, who lives across the street from St. George's church, told the AP that the explosion violently shook her building.

"Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes," she said, adding that later people who were more seriously wounded were carried out in the arms of survivors. They were taken to hospitals in private cars, she said.

Pope Francis, who is scheduled to visit Alexandria in the coming weeks, expressed "deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation."

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt's Al-Azhar, called the attacks a "despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents."

An urgent meeting of Egypt's National Defense Council has been called by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, CNN reports. In a statement, he condemned the attacks, stating the "outrageous" action "targets both the Copts and Muslims of the homeland."

Fattah el-Sisi has given orders for the perpetrators to be hunted down by investigators and to "take all measures to offer the necessary care for the wounded."

"The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil, but will only harden their determination to move forward on their trajectory to realize security, stability and comprehensive development," his statement said.

President Donald Trump responded to the attacks on Twitter.

"So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns. I have great confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly," he wrote.

Sources: Associated Press via ABC News, Associated Press and Tanta Egypt/YouTubeCNN, Donald Trump/Twitter (2) / Photo credit: Dan Lundberg/Flickr

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