Security stepped up at churches in Egypt as Easter approaches

"We are outraged by such brutal acts against innocent people, and consider it essential to conduct a resolute and consistent fight against the evil of terrorism in all its manifestations".

While it is still too early to determine responsibility, what is undeniable is the senseless and heartless brutality that can lead a person or people to indiscriminately take innocent lives, especially at the most vulnerable hour of prayer.

Egypt has seen a spate of attacks since 2013, when the army deposed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected leader, following mass protests against his divisive rule.

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford called the attacks "horrible", and added, "Anti-religious and anti-Christian violence is alive and well throughout the Middle East, and the world". The measures are meant to protect Coptic Christians and make sure that the country is safe for Pope Francis' visit at the end of April.

The Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

The Minya province has the highest Coptic Christian population in the country and Christians there traditionally hold Easter Vigil services on Saturday evening and then spend Easter Sunday on large meals and family visits.

Last week, local media reported that a bomb at St. George's Church had been found and defused.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi declared a three-month state of emergency following the attacks.

The traditional handing out of candies to children by Coptic Pope Tawadros II before the start of Easter mass on Sunday will also be cancelled. Sisi, who was not necessarily in the good books of the previous U.S. administration, was welcomed by President Trump who was quoted as saying "I just want to say to you, Mr. President, that you have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me".

One of the terrorists was identified with the nom de guerre of Abu Ishaaq al Masri, and was reportedly born in 1990 in the province of Sharqiya, located in the Nile delta north of Cairo.

IS also claimed that attack.

Although Copts have faced attacks by Muslim neighbors, who have burnt their homes and churches in poor rural areas, in the past, the community has felt increasingly insecure since Islamic State spread through Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Wahby Lamie, one of whose nephews was killed and another injured in the Tanta blast, expressed exasperation. "And how much longer will security be this incompetent?"

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