Middle East and North Africa

Update: Egypt President declares three days of mourning.

Emerging information from the Egypt bomb attack reveals that so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the twin bomb attacks and named Egyptians as the suicide bombers.

The attacks have so far claimed almost 50 lives and wounded over 100 people, including women and children.

In video footage from the Mar Girgis church in Tanta the beautiful sound of a choir singing hymns turns into screams and panic as the suicide bomber entered the building.

Reports say three policeman were killed trying stop the suicide bomber from entering St Marks Cathedral in Alexandria. A police officer died when he embraced one the suicide bomber just outside the Cathedral, dying with the bomber when he detonated the device.

A taxi driver, Salah el Arby, said to a reporter, “As I was passing by the church, I heard a huge blast – I’d never heard a sound like this,” he said.

“People began running out of the church, shouting and afraid.” The taxi driver, just like many Egyptian Christian, blamed the attack on the security forces.

“I believe this attack was the fault of the security forces,” he said, because a bomb had previously been diffused by police at Mar Girgis church on the 29 March. “The police didn’t protect the church on an important day like today,”  he said.

The head of the security forces, was beaten by an angry mob when he visited the church to inspect the scene and had to be quickly removed from the scene. He was later sacked by the government.

“Although there was a police constable who hugged the person holding the explosive belt to stop him entering the church, at the same time we cannot ignore the fatal mistakes by the security authorities that let this many attacks happen in a short time,” Haitham al Hariri, a member of parliament with the Socialist Popular Alliance told reporters.

“If a bomb had been placed under the seat in Alexandria while the Pope was speaking as it was in Tanta, this would have been an even bigger disaster.”

Haitham added, “I’m here in (Amiri public hospital) hospital and people are angry at me, and angry at every official in this country. Families here are disappointed, frustrated and angry at everyone with no exception, from the head to lowest in the state.”

President Abdel-Fatah al Sisi said he was confident, of “the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil, (which) will only harden their determination to move forward on their trajectory to realise security, stability and comprehensive development.”

The president has declared three days of mourning for the victims of the bomb attacks.

Christians have been increasingly targeted in Egypt following the overthrow of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013. December’s attack was followed by increasing attacks on Coptic Christians in the Sinai Peninsula, causing some 250 Christians to flee the northern Sinai town of Arish.