On the morning of Sunday 11 December, a bomb exploded in a church in Cairo. At least 25 were killed and 49 wounded. Here’s what we know so far:
1. It happened near the biggest Coptic church in Cairo.
The bomb exploded in St Peter’s church, a chapel adjoining St Mark’s Cathedral, the largest and main Coptic Cathedral in Cairo.
“The explosion shook the place … the dust covered the hall and I was looking for the door, although I couldn’t see anything … I managed to leave in the middle of screams and there were a lot of people thrown on the ground.” Emad Shoukry told Reuters.
Egyptian security officials reportedly said that an explosive device with around 11 kilograms of explosives was placed in the chapel, exploding around 10am during Sunday Mass.
2. 25 were killed and 49 wounded, mostly women and children.
The bomb exploded on the side of the historic church reserved for women.
One witness told the Associated Press, “There were children. What have they done to deserve this? I wish I had died with them instead of seeing these scenes.”
Hundreds crowded into hospitals to seek news of the wounded.
3. No one has claimed responsibility.
While no one has claimed responsibility, one supporter of Islamic State wrote online, “God bless the person who did this blessed act.”
In a statement, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi condemned the attack and called for the attackers to be found and punished. He also declared a three-day period of national mourning.
Open Doors contacts say the church is praying for the attackers to know Jesus.
The church in Egypt has been known to respond to persecution with love and forgiveness.
When 21 Egyptian Christians were killed on a beach in Libya by Islamic State, one Christian leader said, “These [Christians] refused to deny their faith to stay alive. The sound of prayers requesting mercy and life, not revenge and destruction, calling on God’s name to come and change the hearts of the killers, is loudly heard across Egypt.”
Our contact said of the latest attack, “Tonight, in my church, we prayed for those who plotted and placed the bomb in St. Peter’s Church… We, Christians of Egypt, pray for our persecutors and attackers that they may know the Christ. We realize our privilege to be sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and our responsibility to reflect the shining light of Jesus in the middle of darkness. May our Lord comfort those in sorrow and heal those in pain. Above all, may His name be glorified through his church in Egypt and worldwide.”
Please pray for the church in Egypt as they mourn their loved ones and as they continue being a light for Jesus in one of the hardest places to be a Christian.