The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for the attacks which occurred a week before Coptic Easter, with Pope Francis scheduled to visit Egypt later this month.
Inside Story: Why is Egypt’s Christian minority targeted?
On Sunday evening, at St Mark’s church in Alexandria, bodies were brought in wooden coffins decorated with golden crosses to the church yard where hundreds of sad and angry Copts gathered and a priest was saying prayers.
A Muslim funeral was also held in El Behira province for one of the four policemen killed in the attack.
“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.
The first attack occurred in the Coptic church of Mar Girgis, also known as St George, which was packed with worshippers marking Palm Sunday, a Christian feast commemorating the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.
Witnesses in Tanta described a bloody and chaotic scene.
“Lots of bodies were torn apart and scattered on the floor,” one man who was standing on the church’s altar when the bomb exploded said.
|Mourners gather for the funeral for the victims of a bomb explosion at Mar Girgis Coptic church in Tanta [EPA]|
|Security personnel secured the scene of the bomb explosion inside Mar Girgis church in Tanta [Khaled Elfiqi/EPA]|
Another witness said she saw flames flaring up to the church ceiling.
“There was thick smoke, I couldn’t see anyone,” she said. “We heard voices telling us to leave quickly. People were pushing so much that the gate bent.”
“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.”
Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims.
“Let us pray for the victims of the attack unfortunately carried out today,” he said.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the bombings. Speaking through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said he hoped “the perpetrators of this horrific terrorist act will be swiftly identified and brought to justice”.
In a separate press statement, the Security Council called the bombings “heinous and cowardly”.
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.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies