The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a Coptic Christian cathedral in the Egyptian capital Cairo, which killed at least 25 people.
The attack took place in a side chapel that adjoins St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the main Coptic cathedral in Egypt and the seat of Coptic Pope Tawadros II. 49 people were wounded in the attack and at least six children were among the dead, as worshippers gathered for mass were caught up in the explosion.
In a statement circulated by the Amaq news agency on Tuesday, ISIS said that one of its fighters—whom it named as Abu Abdallah al-Masri—had carried out the attack. “Every infidel and apostate in Egypt and everywhere should know that our war…continues,” said the statement, Reuters reported.
The militant group’s claim contradicted the Egyptian authorities; President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi named the bomber as 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa at a state funeral for the victims on Monday. Sisi said that four people had been arrested—three men and a woman—in connection with the attack, and that a further two fugitives were being sought.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry said that Mostafa was a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political organization that Sisi has banned in Egypt. The ministry said that Mostafa had been arrested in March 2014 for carrying arms during a protest and was freed on bail after two months, and that he was wanted in connection with two other cases.
SOURCE: CONOR GAFFEY