Egyptians have been paying their respects to a female police officer who was killed when she trying to stop an Islamic extremist suicide bomber from entering a Coptic church in Alexandria on Sunday.
At least 47 people died in two bombings targeting Egypt’s Christian minority on Palm Sunday, the first at St George’s Church in Tanta, followed by the explosion during Mass at Alexandria’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral.
Nagwa Abdel-Aleem, 55, was guarding the entrance to the church when the suicide bomber attempted to pass her. The attacker then detonated the bomb at the main gate. It is believed that the attacker’s primary target was Pope Tawadros II, who had left the site a few minutes earlier.
Ms Abdel-Aleem is the first woman to die in the line of duty in Egypt’s police force. Egyptian media reported that one of her two sons, also a police officer, also died in the attack.
Egypt’s Christian minority – around 10 per cent of the 90 million strong population – is the frequent target of Islamist groups around the country.
The government has declared a state of emergency in the country for the next three months, which is will increase its powers. Pope Francis is visiting Cairo later this month.
Wahby Lamie, one of whose nephews was killed and another injured in the Tanta blast, said to Reuters: ‘How much longer are we going to be this divided? Anyone who’s different from [the Islamist extremists] now is an infidel, whether they’re Muslim or Christian. They see them as infidels.
‘How much longer are these people going to exist? And how much longer will security be this incompetent?’
Following the attacks on Sunday, ISIS claimed responsibility, saying that two of its fighters wearing suicide vests carried out the bombings, and warned of more to come.
‘Crusaders and their apostate allies should know the bill between us and them is very big and they will pay it with rivers of blood from their children, God willing. Wait for us, for we will wait for you,’ the group said in a statement.
The organization had previously released a video vowing it would ‘cleanse’ Egypt of Christians