Egyptians unite after church bombing; Abdel Fatah el-Sisi declares state of emergency

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Bomb squad
A New York Police Department (NYPD) bomb squad truck deploys near an unexploded pressure cooker bomb on 27th Street, hours after an explosion nearby in New York City, New York, US, September 18, 2016. Reuters/Lucien Harriot

Egyptians united on Sunday in defiance of ISIS after the group said they were responsible for bombings of two Christian churches. Egyptians in different faith send their messages of team spirit in social media, saying “your terrorism brings us together.” Meanwhile, President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi made a television appearance, in which he declared a state of emergency and called for unity.

"What's happening now is against all of us,” he said. He believes that the main goal of opponents is to destroy the unity of Egypt. "We will defeat terrorist groups, the killers and will continue fighting and building at the same time," he added. The attack claimed the lives of at least 43 people and left dozens injured.

The bombing on Palm Sunday came almost four months after 23 people were killed in a Coptic Orthodox cathedral in Cairo. Copts, who make up at least 10 percent of Egypt's 91 million residents, have been the target of increased discrimination and persecution since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011. Amid tensions between Muslims and Christians, Muslim community shows support for Christians by gathering inside mosques to donate blood for victims.

Last month, St George's Church in Tanta, a small city between Cairo and Alexandria, had been the target of bomb threats. But the threat did not prevent an estimated crowd of 2,000 from attending the Palm Sunday mass, the start of Holy Week before Easter.

Peter Kamel, one of the congregants, described the bombing to CNN, saying it was so loud that even people who were away could hear it. He added that everything was destroyed inside the church. The bomb appeared to have been positioned near the altar, targeting choir members and priests according to Kamel.

Mina Abdel Malak was outside the church when he heard the explosion and rushed inside to check for his cousin. He told the publication that the bombing was horrible, with blood and body parts everywhere. The explosion shook cars on the other side of the street. In the hospital, Malak saw the name of his cousin, a teacher with two kids, on a list of the deceased. "For someone to get this amount of explosives inside, then security wasn't doing its job,” he said.

Protestors gathered outside St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral to slam the response to persecution of Copts, demanding the ouster of the interior minister. Meanwhile, volunteers were searching for remains in a secured area.

Video Source: YouTube/USA TODAY