Suicide bombers attacked two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, killing at least 40 worshipers and police officers stationed outside, in the deadliest day of violence against Christians in the country in decades.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both attacks in a statement via its Aamaq news agency, having recently signaled its intention to escalate a campaign of violence against Egyptian Christians.
The first explosion occurred about 9:30 at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during a Palm Sunday Mass. Security officials and a witness said that a suicide bomber had barged past security measures and detonated his explosives in the front pews, near the altar.
At least 27 people were killed and 71 others injured, officials said.
Hours later, a second explosion occurred at the gates of St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. That blast killed 13 people and wounded 21 others, the Health Ministry said.
The patriarch of the Egyptian Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, who is to meet with Pope Francis on his visit to Egypt on April 28 and 29, was in the church at the time but was not injured, the Interior Ministry said.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Saturday that regime change in Syria is one of the United States’ priorities, adding that Syrian President Bashar Assad “is not the leader” Syria needs.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Haley said ousting Assad is a priority for the U.S., as well as defeating the Islamic State and shrinking Iranian influence.
“This is a complicated situation. There are no easy answers and a political solution is going to have to happen,” Haley said. “There’s not any sort of option where political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime, if you look at his actions if you look at the situation, it’s going to be hard to see a government that’s peaceful and stable with Assad.”
When asked by host Jake Tapper whether it’s the position of the Trump administration that Assad cannot remain in power, Haley indicated that regime change is possible.
“Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria,” Haley said.
So, having bombed the only meaningful anti-ISIS power center in Syria, we are going to work now towards obliterating it. Because we’re fighting ISIS. Or something. The United States never learns. Fourteen years of screwing up the Middle East with our bad judgment, and we’re going to double down on it, under the leadership of a president who campaigned in part on reversing America’s interventionist approach to the Middle East.
Whatever else might be said of the wicked Bashar al-Assad, he does not set off bombs inside Syrian churches.
Regime change in Syria. My God. We learn nothing. Everyone who voted for Trump hoping that he would have a more sensible foreign policy has now been sold out.