Alexandria's St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral proximity after a suicide bomber blew himself up on Sunday. Policemen stopped the attacker from entering the Cathedral. (Photo: Ahram Online)
Three Egyptian police officers were killed when a suicide bomber they had prevented from entering St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria blew himself up.
The dead officers including policeman Ahmed Ibrahim, Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar, and Emad El-Rakiby, the head of the investigation department of Atarin district, the interior ministry said in a statement.
15 other people were killed in the attack.
A man wearing an explosive belt approached the cathedral in the Manshiya district of Alexandria on Sunday morning to enter, but the forces securing the cathedral stopped him, the interior ministry statement added.
The suicide bomber then detonated the bomb outside the cathedral, killing at least 18 and injuring 40 people, according to the health ministry's latest statement.
Angelious Izhaq, the secretary of Pope Tawadros, who was conducting a service at the cathedral on Sunday morning, confirmed to ONTV channel that the pope was unharmed.
Earlier on Sunday morning a deadly blasts took place at Tanta's Mar Girgis Church, during a Palm Sunday service.
The total death toll from both attacks stands at 45.
St. Mark's Cathedral is the historical seat of the Pope of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
File photo of Egyptian Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar, who died while stopping the suicide bomber from entering the St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.
File photo of the Egyptian head of the police department of Alexandria's Atarin district, Emad El-Rakiby, who died while stopping the suicide bomber from entering the St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, with his son.