Egypt Declares State of Emergency After Church Bombings


Egypt: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says a three-month state of emergency will be imposed after two bomb blasts killed dozens of worshippers in Coptic Christian churches.

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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for Sunday’s church bombings in the Nile Delta cities of Alexandria and Tanta, in which at least 48 people were killed.

“A series of steps will be taken, most importantly, the announcement of a state of emergency for three months after legal and constitution steps are taken,” Sisi said in a speech aired on state television.

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Sisi, who in 2013 led the overthrow of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, announced the measure after a meeting of the national defence council.

The emergency law expands police powers of arrest, surveillance and seizures and can limit freedom of movement.

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Egypt declared a state of emergency in the months that followed the military ouster of Morsi. Part of North Sinai, where ISIL’s Egyptian affiliate is based, is still under a state of emergency.

Earlier on Sunday, a statement by the presidential office said that Sisi had ordered troops be deployed across the country to help secure “vital facilities”.

The bombings were the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt’s Christian minority, who make up about 10 percent of the population and have been repeatedly targeted by armed groups.

Samer Shehata, associate professor at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, told Al Jazeera the attacks show a “tremendous security lapse” by Egyptian authorities.

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“In the last few months, there have been an increased number of attacks on Egyptian Copts, individually, as well as on churches,” Shehata said, adding that the church in Tanta received a threat 10 days ago.

“I do think this represents a lack of seriousness on the part of the state in really securing the Coptic community and places that could potentially be attacked.”