At least 21 were killed in an Egypt church bombing early today that came just as 1,000 Coptic Christians were leaving a New Year's Eve mass in Alexandria.
Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
An Egypt church bombing today has raised fears that global terrorist organizations are exploiting the country's rising sectarian tension as justification for attacking Christians.
The powerful explosion took place outside a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria during a New Year's Eve mass early Saturday, killing at least 21 people and wounding more than 80. It came just as some of the worshipers, who numbered about 1,000, had begun to leave. Wrecked cars and debris were left scattered in the street.
Security authorities initially said the blast had come from a car bomb, but later said it appeared to have come from a suicide bomber, and not a car. A statement released by the Interior Ministry said the bomb was filled with nuts and bearings to kill as many as possible.
Egyptian authorities were quick to blame the attack on foreign terrorists, and denied that it was connected to sectarian tension.
In recent months, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq has repeatedly threatened to attack Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population, and has pointed to events in Egypt as justification for attacking Christians in Iraq.