Friends, relatives, and mourners on Monday packed an Egyptian church for a funeral service for 24 people killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral.
Tearful Christians gathered at the Virgin Mary and St Athanasius Church in Cairo where Coptic Pope Tawadros II prayed over the wooden coffins of the victims of Sunday’s bombing, one the deadliest attacks on the Christian minority in recent memory.
On the walls hung banners bearing the names of the dead, many of them women.
Several hundred people gathered in the Madinat Nasr area furious at being denied entry to the church, where admittance was by invitation only for the families of victims.
Five survivors at Dar al-Shefa hospital said police did not conduct the usual checks as the cathedral was particularly busy for Sunday’s mass.
“There were large numbers so people entered without being searched,” said Mina Francis, who was in the cathedral with his mother who was killed in the blast.
At least 24 people died and 49 were wounded when a bomb exploded in a chapel adjoining St Mark’s Cathedral, Cairo’s largest church and seat of the pope.
Security sources said at least six children were among the dead, with a bomb containing at least 12 kg (26 pounds) of TNT detonating on the side of the church used by women.
The chapel’s floor was covered in debris from shattered windows, its wooden pews blasted apart, its pillars blackened. Here and there lay abandoned shoes and patches of blood.
“God protect Egypt from evil and protect all Egyptians,” Pope Tawadros told state television on Sunday, after cutting short a visit to Greece. “In times like this we lean on each other, stand together and offer condolences to each other. This grief we will share together.”