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Attack on Christian church is Egypt's worst in decades

Attack on Christian church is Egypt's worst in decades

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CAIRO — Twenty-five people died in an explosion at a church adjoining Cairo's main Coptic cathedral on Sunday, the worst attack on a Christian place of worship in majority Muslim Egypt in decades.

The blast took place during a Mass at the Botrosiya church. The church is inside the heavily guarded complex that houses the cathedral, the seat of Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong.

"It felt like the world has turned upside-down," said Magdy Ramzy, 59, who was wounded behind the ear by shrapnel. He frantically searched the wrecked chapel, and then outside, for his wife, Sabah Wadie. Only later did he learn that she was killed, and his daughter-in-law and three of his grandchildren were wounded.

The blast injured 49 people. As of Sunday evening, there had been no claims of responsibility. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamic extremists, including Egypt's Islamic State branch, which has staged numerous attacks across the country this year targeting soldiers, police and government officials.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar visited the scene of the attack, independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reported.

Egypt's Islamic authorities condemned the attack. The country's top Islamic judicial official said the perpetrators would be the "enemies" of the prophet Mohammed on the Day of Judgment.

The blast came on a public holiday marking the birth of Mohammed.

This article includes material from the Washington Post and Associated Press.

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