Explosion hits Egypt’s St Peter’s church killing 22

Egyptian security forces inspect the scene of a bomb explosion at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo on December 11, 2016

An explosion has hit St Peter’s church near Cairo’s Coptic cathedral within the same complex killing at least 20 people, local media reported.

Egypt’s state-run television said 22 people had been killed and 35 injured in the blast, citing health ministry officials.

Photos and video footage showed damage to the exterior of the church, with shattered windows and broken roofing.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

The explosion happened at around 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT). Local media reported that Cairo’s security chief, Khalid Abdel Aal, arrived to inspect the scene.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians make up about 10% of the country’s population.

St Mark’s Cathedral is the headquarters of the country’s Orthodox church, and the home of its leader, Pope Tawadros II.

On Saturday, six policemen were killed when a bomb exploded on a main road leading to the pyramids at Giza. The explosion, at a police checkpoint, was the deadliest attack on security forces in Cairo in over six months.

A recently formed militant group called Hasm claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two people were killed outside St Mark’s cathedral in 2013, when people mourning the death of four Coptic Christians killed in religious violence clashed with local residents.

 

BBC/Zainab Sa’id