A deadly attack that killed 25 Christians inside a Cairo church was the work of an Islamic terrorist, Egyptian authorities have revealed.
Egyptian police believe that Mahmoud Shafiq Mohammed Mustafa, an Islamic terrorist, blew himself up inside a Cairo chapel during Sunday Mass, killing 25 Christians.
Mustafa raised suspicions when, according to footage from a security camera, he hurriedly entered the chapel wearing a bulging jacket, prompting one security guard to follow him. About 10 seconds later, Mustafa blew himself up.
Speaking after a state funeral for the victims, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the suspect detonated a belt of explosives inside a chapel adjacent to St. Mark’s Cathedral, seat of Egypt’s ancient Coptic Orthodox Church. The over 100-year-old chapel was packed with worshipers at the time of the attack.
The dead included more than 20 women and children. Dozens of others were injured.
Mustafa’s attorney claimed on Monday that his client was arrested and beaten by police two years ago after allegedly taking part in an Islamist demonstration.
The Interior Ministry said late Monday that Mustafa, 18, belonged to a terrorist cell founded by an Egyptian doctor and funded by Muslim Brotherhood leaders living in exile in Qatar, long accused by Egypt of supporting Islamic terror groups.
It said the cell was tasked with staging attacks that would lead to sectarian Muslim-Christian strife.
Mustafa’s lawyer insisted his client was not a member of the Brotherhood.
Two local news websites on Monday quoted Mustafa’s mother as saying he had not been home in two years.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing. Two active terror groups believed to have links to the Muslim Brotherhood — Hasm and Liwa el-Thawra — distanced themselves from the attack.
The local affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS) group has so far remained silent.
Three men and a woman were arrested in connection with Sunday’s attack and other suspects were on the run.
Sunday’s bombing was among the deadliest attacks in recent memory to target Egypt’s Coptic minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the country’s population.
Islamic terrorists have carried out scores of attacks in recent years, mainly targeting the security forces, while the government has waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent.
Outside the church where the victims’ funeral was held, a crowd of several hundred protesters scuffled with security forces when they were barred from attending the service.
“People have a volcano of anger inside their chests,” said Nora Sedki, a Christian government employee who joined the demonstration.
“The blood of our brothers is dear,” chanted the protesters, who carried Egyptian flags and crosses made of tree branches.
Christians have accused the security forces of failing to do enough to protect them from Muslim terrorists.
By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.