Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter

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Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter

Egyptians gather behind a security perimeter near the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria after a bomb blast struck outside the church as worshippers attended Palm Sunday mass on April 9, 2017.

The usually festive occasion is tainted with fearful apprehension after twin bombings in two cities killed 45 Coptic Christians this week on Palm Sunday.

The group had claimed responsibility for the December bombing of a church adjacent to St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, one of the most symbolic religious sites for Egyptian Copts.

The Vatican says some 165,000 Catholic Copts lived in Egypt in 2010. The ability of Coptic Christians to worship safely has become a bellwether for President al-Sisi campaign against Islamists and so continued IS attacks may begin cast doubts on the success of his counterterrorism campaign against Egyptian jihadists.

While extending condolences on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Liberia, and in her own name, to the Government and people of the Arab Republic of Egypt, especially the bereaved families, President Sirleaf extended heartfelt condolences for the irreparable loss sustained.

The latest bombings took place in the northern cities of Tanta and Alexandria as Egypt's Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, marking the start of the Holy Week leading to Easter, which falls on April 16 this year. Hours earlier, another bomb tore through a church in Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta. Islamic State has already declared more attacks to be on the way, which might force Coptic Christians to flee Egypt in order to escape prosecution.

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A Muslim funeral was also held in El Behira province for one of the four policemen killed in the St Mark's attack.

At least 46 people were killed and dozens injured on Sunday morning, when two blasts ripped through the two churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

The army chief-turned-president also dispatched elite troops across the country to protect key installations and accused unidentified countries of fueling instability, saying that "Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt".

That October, nearly 30 people-mostly Coptic Christians-were killed after the army charged at a protest in Cairo to denounce the torching of a church in southern Egypt.

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