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Islamic State Claims Egypt Coptic Christian Church Bombing

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadist group has reportedly claimed responsibility for carrying out a suicide bombing that killed at least 25 and wounded an estimated 49 others inside a Coptic Christian Church in the Egyptian capital Cairo during Sunday service.

Various media outlets have deemed the incident, which primarily killed women, as the deadliest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent memory.

The bombing took place at the church in Cairo adjacent to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of Coptic Pope Tawadros II.

Egypt’s government has reportedly released footage showing the suicide attack, including images of the alleged attacker.

“The video is a recording of CCTV footage and shows the street across from the chapel adjacent to St. Mark’s Cathedral, seat of Egypt’s ancient Coptic Orthodox Church,” notes the Associated Press (AP).

During a funeral held for the victims, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi identified 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa as the suicide bomber.

Meanwhile, ISIS described the attacker as Abu Abdullah al-Masri, which appears to be a nom de guerre, according to AP.

On Monday, the Sisi administration accused the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which has been designated a terrorist group in Egypt and other Muslim-majority countries, of training and financing the attackers.

The Islamic State has repeatedly attacked the Muslim Brotherhood for being insufficiently committed to Islam. In April, ISIS denounced MB in its online propaganda magazine Dabiq as an “apostate” organization.

On Tuesday, ISIS issued a statement circulated online through which it vowed to “continue war against apostates,” adding that 80 people had been killed and wounded in the attack.

According to Egypt’s interior ministry, the alleged bomber Mostafa had been arrested in 2014 in connection to crimes linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Authorities eventually released him in May of the same year.

MB has denied the Egyptian government allegations that it was involved in the deadly bombing.

The Christian minority in Egypt makes up 10 percent of the population.

AP reports that it “was largely supportive of the military overthrow” in 2013 of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood.

In response to widespread protests, then-military chief Sisi ousted Morsi who had been elected.

“Since then, Islamic militants have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting the security forces, while the government has waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent,” reports AP. “Small protests were held outside the church in the aftermath of the attack, as Christians accused the government of failing to protect them, a complaint that goes back many years.”

President Sisi has revealed that three men and a woman have been arrested in connection with Sunday’s attack, noting that other suspects were on the run.

The detainees have been identified as Rami Mohamed Abdel Hameed Abdel Ghani, Mohamed Hamdi Abdel Hamid Abdel Ghani, Mohsen Mostafa el-Sayed Qassem, and Ola Hussein Mohamed Ali, a woman.

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