Egypt says church attack carried out by suicide bomber
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Egypt says church attack carried out by suicide bomber

Four suspects arrested in connection with Sunday's deadly blast; no group has taken responsibility yet

Security forces examine the scene inside St. Mark's Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing in which 24 were killed, Sunday, December 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Security forces examine the scene inside St. Mark's Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing in which 24 were killed, Sunday, December 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Egyptian security forces arrested four people suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a Cairo church that killed 24 people, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said Monday.

Sissi, who was speaking at a funeral for those killed, also revealed that Sunday’s attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, identified as 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa.

“He blew himself up inside the church” with an explosive belt, Sissi said.

Sissi did not say what organization Mostafa was a part of.

One of the four people arrested was a woman, Sissi said, and authorities were looking for two other suspects he did not identify.

Speaking to the Coptic Church’s pope, Tawadros II, during the funeral, Sissi said: “We would not have been able to come to you today, your holiness, before getting some information.”

Egyptian mourners and officials stand next to the coffins of the victims of a bomb explosion that targeted a Coptic Orthodox Church the previous day in Cairo, at the end their funeral in the capital's Nasr City neighbourhood on December 12, 2016. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
Egyptian mourners and officials stand next to the coffins of the victims of a bomb explosion that targeted a Coptic Orthodox Church the previous day in Cairo, at the end their funeral in the capital’s Nasr City neighbourhood on December 12, 2016. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, have been previously targeted by jihadists.

The health ministry on Monday released a new toll revising down the number of victims to 24, one more fatality than previously reported, suggesting that the 25th body belonged to the bomber.

Most of the victims were women, authorities have said.

A policeman inspects damages outside the St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
A policeman inspects damages outside the St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

The blast also wounded 45 people and 21 of them were still hospitalized, the ministry said.

The attack occurred during a Sunday service at the church adjacent to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of Tawadros II.

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