Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Alexandria Church Bombing Kills 21, Injures 79

BBC News
Egypt bomb kills 21 at Alexandria Coptic church
Jan. 1, 2011

At least 21 worshippers have been killed at a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in an explosion blamed on a suicide bomber with foreign links.

The blast occurred as worshippers left a New Year's Eve service

At least 43 people were wounded in the attack. It happened as worshippers were leaving a new year's service at the al-Qidiseen church shortly after midnight.

Coptic Christians and Muslims clashed after the attack, but police moved in and used tear gas to restore order.

President Hosni Mubarak urged Egyptians to unite against "terrorism".

In a televised statement he blamed "foreign hands" for the bombing. "Wicked terrorists targeted the nation, Copts and Muslims," he said.

Earlier Egypt's interior ministry said: "It is likely that the device which exploded was carried by a suicide bomber who died among others".

The nature of the attack "clearly indicates that foreign elements undertook planning and execution", it said.

Earlier, authorities said the attack was caused by a car bomb.

Foreign connection?

So far no group has said it carried out the attack.

The al-Qaeda in Iraq group had recently threatened Christians in Egypt. It cited the case of two Egyptian Christian women who reportedly converted to Islam in order to divorce their husbands. The group said the women were being held against their will by the Coptic Church.

Christians in the Coptic Orthodox Church make up about 10% of Egypt's population, most of whom are Muslims.

After the explosion, angry Copts clashed with police and local Muslims, reportedly throwing stones and targeting a nearby mosque.

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