By John Martin

Palm Sunday explosions in two Egyptian Coptic churches have left at least 49 worshipers dead and many more injured, and ISIS has claimed culpability. The bombs were detonated 80 miles apart: one in the coastal city of Alexandria, the other in the Nile Delta town of Tanta.

Coptic Orthodox Christians say they feel discriminated against and abandoned by the authorities in a predominantly Muslim country. But the Christians of Tanta also say they are determined to hold to their faith. “We’re Christian and we will stay Christian,” one woman told a French news agency.

The bombings were “yet another targeted attack” on Christians, said Bishop Angaelos, leader of Coptic Christians in the United Kingdom. “What is undeniable is the senseless and heartless brutality that can lead a person or persons to indiscriminately take innocent lives, especially at the most vulnerable hour of prayer.”

He called for prayer for the Coptic Pope Tawadros II and his clergy and for Coptic laity who “continue to be resilient in the face of ongoing and escalating attacks” and who “resist the urge to react vengefully or reciprocally.”

At least 27 people died in a blast inside a church in the northern city of Tanta, and 78 people were injured. In Alexandria, 18 civilians and four police officers were killed when a suicide bomber struck outside a Coptic church.

The Egyptian news agency reports that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared three days of nationwide mourning and a three-month state of emergency.

Image: Victims’ coffins arrive at a Coptic church that was bombed April 9 in Tanta, Egypt. • Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

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