At least 21 people were killed and scores were wounded on Saturday (Jan. 1) when a bomb planted outside a church in Alexandria, Egypt exploded as congregants were leaving a New Year’s Eve Mass celebration. The explosion ripped through the crowd shortly after midnight, killing instantly most of those who died, and leaving the entrance-way to the Church of the Two Saints, a Coptic Orthodox congregation, awash in blood. At least 90 other people were injured in the blast, 10 seriously. Among the injured were eight Muslims.
Witnesses said a driver parked a car at the entrance of the church and then ran away seconds before it exploded. Government officials have claimed they found remnants of the bomb, filled with nails and other make-shift shrapnel, at the site. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the attack comes two months after an Islamic group known as the Islamic State of Iraq issued a threat stating that, “All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers are legitimate targets for the muhajedeen [Muslim fighters] wherever they can reach them.”
Bishop Mouneer Anis, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt, said that his church has taken greater security measures at its downtown Cairo location. “We pray with all the people of Egypt, Christians and Muslims, [that they] would unite against this new wave of religious fanaticism and terrorism.”
Egypt, ranked No. 19 on the 2011 WWL wasn’t the only place in the Middle East plagued with anti-Christian violence over the holiday season. The day before bombers struck the Alexandria church, an elderly Christian couple in Baghdad was killed when terrorists placed a bomb outside of their home, rang the doorbell and walked away, according to media and human rights reports. The bombing happened at the same time other Christian-owned homes and neighborhoods throughout Baghdad were being attacked. Estimates of the number of people wounded in the attacks in Iraq range from nine to more than 13.
Lord of heaven and earth, you know the suffering of Your people in Egypt and Iraq, the way they have been singled out by terrorists simply because they worship You. We ask You to heal those who have been injured and to comfort the families of those whose earthly lives have been snuffed out. Give them wisdom in the aftermath of these attacks. Make them “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” as they live their lives in the midst of constant danger.
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