(AFP) A bomb blast killed at least 25 worshipers during Sunday mass inside a Cairo church near the seat of the Coptic pope who heads Egypt’s Christian minority, state media said.
The explosion ripped through the church at around 10:00 am (0800 GMT), Egyptian security officials said.
It was the deadliest suspected attack on the country’s beleaguered Christian minority in recent memory.
The blast in the church adjacent to Saint Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in the Abbasiya neighborhood shattered its glass windows and left a scene of carnage in the main prayer hall.
State television quoted a security official saying a bomb made of TNT appeared to have been behind the explosion.
“Tell the sheikh, tell the priest, Egyptians’ blood is not cheap,” a crowd outside the church chanted, as ambulances lined up to evacuate the casualties.
The church “is deeply loved by many Coptic faithful in Cairo and it has a regular parish presence,” said Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop for the Coptic Church in Britain.
He said services had been held in the church on Sunday morning, while the adjacent St Mark’s Cathedral was being renovated.
“It’s an easier target because its entrance is outside the precincts” of the cathedral.
There was no claim of responsibility for any attack, but Takfiris in Sinai have targeted Christians before, as well as Muslims they accuse of working with the government.
In April 2013, two people died in clashes outside St Mark’s Cathedral, seat of Pope Tawadros II.