The Latest: Germany urges Egyptian religious solidarity

AP News
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Posted: Apr 10, 2017 2:00 PM
The Latest: Germany urges Egyptian religious solidarity

CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on the aftermath of Sunday's deadly church bombings in Egypt (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Germany says Muslims in Egypt should show solidarity with their Christian compatriots.

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the suicide bombings that killed 45 people Sunday

Steffen Seibert told reporters that it was important to preserve the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Speaking on Monday in Berlin, Seibert said "the Coptic minority doesn't just need the protection of security forces, but also the solidarity and goodwill of the Muslim majority."

During a visit to Egypt last month, Merkel toured a Cairo church that had been the site of a previous bombing in December.

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1 p.m.

The priest of St. George's Church in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta, where a suicide bomber killed at least 27 people, says he lost his 23-year-old son, who was among six deacons killed in the attack.

"In just seconds, the entire church was filled with smoke, fire, blood, and screams," Father Danial Maher told The Associated Press over the phone from Tanta on Monday where he buried his son, Beshoy late Sunday night.

The pair arrived at the church early Sunday morning to start the Palm Sunday mass; Beshoy wore white deacon's robes and sang religious hymns. "He was like an angel, standing in the middle of the deacons singing," Maher said.

Pictures of Maher went viral on social media, showing him sitting helplessly in blood-stained robes.

The Islamic State affiliate in Egypt claimed responsibility for the attack. Maher said he didn't recall any unusual movements, but other worshippers told him that they saw a man rushing inside the church before the explosion.

A 15-year veteran of the church, Father Danial said that the church "definitely" was in need of better security but stopped short of blaming the government.

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12 p.m.

Egypt's Cabinet says the state of emergency will go into effect at 1:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.

In a statement, the Cabinet says Monday that it approved the presidential decision to declare a state of emergency across the country for three months.

According to Egypt's constitution, parliament must vote in favor of such a declaration — a virtual certainty since the legislature is packed with supporters of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. It cannot exceed six months. Mohammed Abu Hamed, a lawmaker, says that the parliament will consider the issue in a session on Monday.

The army chief-turned-president also dispatched elite troops across the country to protect key installations and accused unidentified countries of fueling instability, saying that "Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt."

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11:45 a.m.

Egyptian Christians are burying their dead a day after at least 44 people were killed in twin suicide bombings at Palm Sunday services in two separate cities.

Women wailed as caskets marked with the word "martyr" were brought into the Mar Amina church in the coastal city of Alexandria on Monday, the footage broadcast on several Egyptian channels.

Coptic priests, boy scouts, and mourners carrying flowers joined a procession into the church, the pace set by a beat of snare drums.

At least 17 people were killed at St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt. Another suicide attack killed at least 27 people inside St. George's Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.