Egypt bombings: Muslim countries lead chorus of condemnation

A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed dozens in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2017
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Egypt bombings: Muslim countries lead chorus of condemnation

JEDDAH: Arab and Muslim countries joined Saudi Arabia Sunday to condemn the twin bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt that left at least 40 people dead and scores wounded just one week before Coptic Easter and the same month that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.
The blasts occurred at Margarges Church in Tanta and near St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria, northern Egypt. Daesh has claimed responsibility.
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that King Salman sent a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi saying: “We express our deep condemnation and condemnation of these two criminal acts,” according to Saudi Press Agency.
It added: “We affirm Saudi Arabia’s stand with the Arab Republic of Egypt and its brotherly people against anyone who tries to undermine its security. And to the families of the brotherly Arab Republic of Egypt and to the families of the victims on behalf of the people and the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and on our behalf, our sincere condolences and sincere condolences. We wish their families patience and solace and wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
King Abdallah II of Jordan sent a cable to El-Sisi denouncing the attack as “cowardly” and voicing Jordan’s solidarity and support with Egypt in fighting terrorism and preserving its stability.
Turkey also condemned Sunday’s attacks on churches in Egypt.
“We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, “cursed” the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.
“The immunity of a place of worship, no matter the religion it belongs to, cannot be violated and the bloodthirsty killing of innocent worshippers cannot ever be forgiven,” Gormez said in an official statement.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a statement denouncing the attack.
“We convey our condolences to the bereaved families and the whole people of Egypt,” the statement said before a second attack hit an Alexandria church, killing at least 11 people.
Gaza’s Hamas said in a statement that the attack was “a crime.”
Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “Hamas wishes safety, security, stability and prosperity for Egypt and its people.”
Joining the growing list of Muslim countries protesting the attack, Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a tweet, expressed its solidarity with Egypt and also wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
The UAE offered its full solidarity with Egypt in its efforts to eliminate criminal and terrorist elements that are wreaking havoc and targeting the lives of innocent citizens, according to UAE News Agency, WAM.
In addition, Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Egypt in general, wishing the wounded speedy recovery.
Al-Othaimeen also reaffirmed the OIC’s principled and resolute position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The Kuwait News Agency reported that Kuwaiti National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim sent a cable to his Egyptian counterpart, Ali Abdulal. He said, “We condemn this criminal heinous blast, and we reiterate our full solidarity with Egypt.”
According to the Bahrain News Agency, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, said Bahrain supported measures to deter terrorism to maintain security and stability and the attacks “will never succeed in undermining the unity and steadfastness of Egyptian society, and reiterated Bahrain’s firm position, which rejects violence, extremism and terrorism.”


UN calls for Hodeidah ceasefire as momentum gathers for Yemen peace talks

Updated 36 min 30 sec ago
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UN calls for Hodeidah ceasefire as momentum gathers for Yemen peace talks

  • Flurry of diplomacy to calm tensions ahead of a return to UN-backed talks
  • Yemeni military says 147 Houthis were killed in last 24 hours despite reports of reduced fighting

LONDON: The United Nations’ aid chief called Tuesday for a ceasefire around Hodeidah amid reports that fighting in the Yemeni city had reduced.

The appeal came amid a flurry of diplomacy to calm tensions ahead of a return to UN-backed talks to try and end the conflict.

Fighting intensified around Hodeidah last week as pro-government troops, supported by the Arab coalition, made advances around the port against the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

AP reported that an informal agreement to reduce hostilities in and around Hodeidah had taken hold in the last two days, in what could be a prelude to peace talks.

However, nearly 147 Houthi militants were killed and dozens wounded in the last 24 hours during battles with government troops, the Yemeni Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.

The ministry said troops advanced in a number of neighborhoods, securing areas and a school and businesses from the Houthis.

Hodeidah, Yemen’s main port, has become the main focus of the conflict, which started in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa.

With dire warnings over the humanitarian situation in the county, pressure is growing for a negotiated end to the conflict. The United States has called for a ceasefire and talks on ending the war while Britain has said it is preparing a Security Council draft resolution that would pave the way to peace talks.

On Tuesday, Mark Lowcock, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, called for a cessation of hostilities, particularly “around all the infrastructure and facilities on which the aid operation and commercial importers rely.”

The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the reduction of clashes and said it was a “crucial step” to prevent further humanitarian suffering.

“I am confident that the parties are ready to work on a political solution and am encouraged by the constructive engagement received from all sides,” he said.

Sweden is ready to host peace talks as soon as possible to try and negotiate an end to the war in Yemen, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said on Tuesday.

“We are preparing ourselves to, when the parties are ready, welcome them in Sweden,” she said.

Wallstrom said she hoped the negotiations could begin this month.

UN talks in Geneva to end the war, which has killed nearly 10,000 people, collapsed when the Houthis refused to attend.