Egypt declares state of emergency after Palm Sunday church bombings

TANTA, Egypt — A day after brazen ISIS attacks killed dozens at two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday, Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency, a measure designed to help authorities root out the killers.

A stunned nation watched funerals for victims of the bombings on national TV and citizens raised questions and fears about what some consider lax security at churches.

“The state of emergency means absolutely nothing to me,” said Andrew Abdel Shaheed, an Egyptian Copt in Brussels.

“It means that people will get trailed for no reason and arrested with no warrants, but what does it do for the future of Egyptians? I personally do not feel safe to return to Egypt.”

The Sunday strikes, which targeted Egypt’s persecuted and vulnerable Christian minority on the first day of the faith’s Holy Week leading to Easter, left at least 49 dead, state TV said Monday.

At least 27 people died in a bomb blast inside a church in the northern city of Tanta and 78 people were injured, according to Egypt’s state-run news agency Al-Ahram.

In Alexandria, 18 civilians and four police officers were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church, Al-Ahram said.

ISIS, which claimed responsibility, warned of more attacks in a statement.

“The Crusaders and their apostate followers must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large, and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God is willing,” the group said in Arabic.

After the bombings, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a period of mourning. The government formed a council to counter terror and extremism and announced a three-month state of emergency.

“The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil,” the president said in a statement.

In a statement issued on the Telegram messaging platform and circulated by several ISIS supporters, the militant group identified the bombers as Egyptian nationals. Egyptian authorities have not confirmed the bombers’ nationalities.