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Islamic State group claims Cairo church bombing that killed 25

© SUHAIL SALEH / AFP | An Egyptian man looks at the damage at the scene of a bomb explosion that targeted the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Church on December 11, 2016

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-12-14

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a suicide bombing two days ago at Cairo's main Coptic cathedral and threatened more attacks against Christians.

The militant group said in a statement that a suicide bomber whom it identified as Abu Abdallah al-Masri had detonated his explosive belt inside the church.

"Every infidel and apostate in Egypt and everywhere should know that our war ... continues," the group said in the statement, published by its Amaq news agency.

The name it gave for the suicide bomber differed from that announced by Egyptian authorities on Monday - Mahmoud Shafik Mohammed Mostafa. It gave no explanation for the difference.

At least 25 people were killed and 49 wounded in the attack.

The Egyptian government had earlier released video footage showing images said to be that of the suicide attacker.

The video was a recording of CCTV footage from outside a chapel adjacent to St. Mark's Cathedral, seat of Egypt's ancient Coptic Orthodox Church. It shows a dark figure crossing the street and walking through the gates of the church. Moments later, the blast sends clouds of dust and debris through the windows.

It was among the deadliest attacks in recent memory to target Egypt's Coptic minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the population and was largely supportive of the military overthrow of a freely elected Islamist president in 2013. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, a senior figure in the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

Since then, Islamic militants have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting the security forces, while the government has waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent.

Small protests were held outside the church in the aftermath of the attack, as Christians accused the government of failing to protect them, a complaint that goes back many years.

Officials and government supporters have touted the quick identification of the suspected bomber as proof of the efficiency of the security bodies, but Christian activist Nader Shokry said more could have been done to prevent the attack.

"How did all this planning take place without the security knowing about it?" he said. "You are saying that this person belongs to a terror group and has been previously arrested ... So you should have kept a close eye on him."

The Interior Ministry said late Monday that the attacker belonged to a terror cell founded by an Egyptian doctor and funded by Muslim Brotherhood leaders living in exile in Qatar. It said the cell was tasked with staging attacks that would stir sectarian strife.

Three men and a woman were arrested in connection with Sunday's attack, and other suspects were on the run, al-Sisi said.

The Brotherhood condemned the bombing.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)

Date created : 2016-12-13

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