ISIS branch in Egypt appears to be stepping up attacks and threats against Christians

At least 36 people were killed and more than 100 injured in bomb attacks on two Coptic churches on Palm Sunday, in the latest assault on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants.

ISIS was responsible for the bombings, the group’s news agency Amaq said. “A group that belongs to Islamic State carried out the two attacks on the churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria,” Amaq said.

The first bombing, in Tanta, a Nile Delta city less than 100km outside Cairo, killed at least 25 and injured at least 78, Egypt’s Ministry of Health said.

The second carried out just a few hours later by a suicide bomber in Alexandria, hit the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 11, including three police officers, and injuring 35, the ministry added.

Pope Tawadros, who had attended mass at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, was still in the building at the time of the explosion but was not harmed, the Ministry of Interior said.

Thousands gathered outside the church in Tanta shortly after the blast, some wearing black, crying, and describing a scene of carnage.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail are set to visit the Tanta site on Sunday and Sisi has ordered an emergency national defence council meeting, state news reported.