The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for bombing two Egyptian churches as worshippers gathered to mark Palm Sunda, killing at least 37 people in the deadliest attacks on the Coptic Christian minority in recent memory.
The attacks followed a Cairo church bombing in December and came weeks ahead of a planned visit by Catholic Pope Francis intended to show support for the country’s Christian minority.
In Alexandria, an explosion outside St Mark’s Coptic church killed 13 people. Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Church, had been attending Mass inside and was unhurt, state media reported.
An earlier blast at St George’s Coptic church in Tanta killed 27 people.
So-called Islamic State (IS) says it is behind the explosions. The group has recently targeted Copts in Egypt.
Four police officers, including one policewoman, were among those killed in Alexandria, the interior ministry said. The suicide bomber blew himself up after they stopped him from entering the church.
In Tanta, news footage shows people gathered at the church, singing hymns. The video then quickly switches to bars as harrowing screams and cries echo in the background.