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Egypt

Worshippers return to Coptic church after deadly blast

Reuters

Worshippers have returned to the Coptic church in Alexandria, one day after an apparent suicide bomber killed 21 people. Egyptian newspapers have called on Christians and Muslims to stand together amid fear of further sectarian violence.

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Blood stains of Saturday’s attack were still visible on the façade of the Al-Qiddisin Church where dozens of grieving worshippers gathered for Sunday’s mass.

21 people were killed and 79 people were wounded in what appears to be a suicide bombing. Egypt has blamed international “terrorism” for the attack on New Year’s Day.

President Hosni Mubarak said the attack bore the hallmark of "foreign hands".

Reuters

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but Al-Qaeda has threatened Egypt’s Copts in the past.

Hamyet Udin, cultural ambassador for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, told RFI his organisation strongly condemned the attack. "The secretary general of the organisation Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu has condemned in the strongest terms the criminal and terrorist act which targetted civilians who were performing their religious rituals," he said adding that "the OIC is committed to tolerance between all faiths."

In the hours after the attack, angry Egyptians took to the streets of Alexandria to vent their anger. Groups of youths near the church clashed with riot police, who retaliated with tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets.

Thousands of people attended funerals of the victims late on Saturday at a monastery outside Alexandria. Crowds of mourners shouted slogans and refused to accept official condolences.

"No, no, no," the crowd shouted as a Church official tried to read out condolences from Mubarak.

Independent newspapers in Cairo warned on Sunday that "civil war" could break out unless Christians and Muslims stand together.

The paper Al-Shorouk said Christians had a right to be angry, but urged them not play into the game of "the instigators of (Saturday's) crime."
 

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