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Egypt’s prosecution detains 3 suspects in church bombing investigation

On Palm Sunday, two suicide bombings hit St George's Cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, killing 46 and injuring dozens

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 16 Apr 2017
Women cry
File Photo: Women cry during the funeral for those killed in a Palm Sunday church attack. (AP)
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Egypt’s prosecution detained three alleged members of a terrorist cell on Sunday as part of investigations into the bombing of two churches on Palm Sunday that left dozens killed and injured.

The three suspects will be detained for 15 days pending investigations into their involvement in the terrorist attacks.

On 9 April, two suicide bombings hit St George's Cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, killing 46 people and injuring dozens in the deadliest attack on Copts in the country's recent history. The attacks were timed to take place on Palm Sunday, at the start of Holy Week, in the run up to Easter, thereby ensuring large-scale casualties.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attacks, naming the Alexandria suicide bomber as Abu Isaac Al-Masry and the Tanta suicide bomber as Abu Al-Baraa Al-Masry.

One day following the attacks, the interior ministry said that police had killed seven members of a terrorist cell in a shootout in Upper Egypt's Assiut governorate.

The three men detained on Sunday are being investigated on suspicion of joining an illegal group that calls for disobeying authority and overthrowing the state, as well as attacking Christian citizens and their places of worship.

The three suspects are also accused of conducting a terrorist attack in January on a security checkpoint in New Valley governorate, leaving eight policemen dead.

The interior ministry said at the time that the checkpoint attack was executed by 12 militants, two of whom were killed by the police during the attack.

A three-month state of emergency was declared by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on the day of the churches’ attacks.

The cabinet approved the state of emergency on Monday, and parliament approved the decision unanimously on Tuesday.

Copts, who make up about one tenth of Egypt's population of more than 92 million, have been targeted by several terrorist attacks in recent months.

In December, a suicide bombing claimed by IS killed 29 worshippers at a Cairo church.

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