Egypt mourns victims of church bombing

By Ahmed Mohammed Hassan and Ali Abdelaty
AAP
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Cairo church bombing kills 25

A bombing at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral has killed at least 25 people.

Mourners have packed an Egyptian church for a funeral service for 25 people killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral, while angry survivors accused authorities of security lapses.

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.

He denounced the perpetrators during the service.

"We know that whoever has done this does not belong to Egypt, its history or its culture," he said.

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.

There was also anger at hospitals treating the wounded.

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 12kg 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.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who announced three days of mourning and vowed justice, is to attend a public ceremony later on Monday.

Sisi is fighting battles on several fronts. His economic reforms have angered the poor, a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has seen thousands jailed and an insurgency rages in Northern Sinai, led by Islamic State's Egyptian branch.

The group has also claimed attacks in Cairo and urged its supporters in recent weeks to launch attacks around the world as it goes on the defensive in its Iraqi and Syrian strongholds.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but exiled Brotherhood officials and other militant groups joined the international community in condemning the attack.