Al Qaida tied to bombing of church in Egypt

Tuesday, January 4, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

CAIRO Al Qaida is believed to have conducted a mass-casualty strike in Egypt.

At least 21 people were killed in the bombing of a Christian church in the Egyptian port of Alexandria on Jan. 1. The bombing in front of the Coptic church took place following New Year's mass and amid Al Qaida threats to attack Christian interests in Egypt and other Muslim states.

"The blood of the martyrs will not be lost in vain," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said.

At first, officials said the attack stemmed from a car laden with explosives outside the Alexandria church. Later, the Interior Ministry attributed the bombing in which another 97 people were injured to a suicide operative. The bomb was said to have contained steel bolts to increase lethality.

"It is probable that the bomb was carried by a suicide bomber who died in the crowd," the Interior Ministry said.

The attack sparked clashes between police and Coptic protesters, who shouted "where is the government." Police fired rubber bullets and arrested dozens of Christians, many of whom officials said hurled stones toward a nearby mosque.

Security sources said at least 40 officers were injured in clashes with Copts in Alexandria and Cairo on Jan. 2. One of the Coptic protests, in which demonstrators shouted "Revolution, revolution," took place in front of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

The Mubarak regime, despite opposition warnings, has denied an Al Qaida presence in Egypt. Still, over the last two years, Egypt has arrested suspected Al Qaida operatives accused of planning attacks. At least one opposition party said it would demand the resignation of Interior Minister Habib Al Adly for ignoring the Al Qaida threats.

Still, officials acknowledged that the latest attack appeared to be the work of an Al Qaida-aligned network in cooperation with Egyptian operatives. They said authorities have been interrogating at least seven suspects over the last day.

"Someone wants to make this country explode," the pro-government newspaper Ruz El Yusef said.

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