Egypt president orders state of emergency


Associated Press

CAIRO

Egypt imposed a three-month nationwide state of emergency Monday as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi sought to ease public anger and take a tougher stand against Islamic extremists after suicide bombings at two Coptic Christian churches killed 45 people.

A day after the Palm Sunday bloodshed, the Interior Ministry said it killed seven Islamic State militants in an exchange of gunfire during a security operation in the southern city of Assiut. The ministry alleged they were plotting attacks against Christians. It posted photos of bodies lying next to weapons and said IS publications were found with them.

A state of emergency already in place in the Sinai Peninsula has failed to halt near daily attacks against police and security forces by the Islamic State group in the volatile area.

Now the group is stepping up its attacks against Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population, by moving its activities from the Sinai to other parts of Egypt. Its increasingly sophisticated tactics are likely to fuel sectarian tensions and embarrass el-Sissi.

The Palm Sunday bombings hit churches in the port city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, and the city of Tanta. The head of the Coptic church, Pope Tawadros II, was inside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria when the bomber struck there but was unhurt.

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