The Latest: Blast at church in Egypt’s Alexandria kills 11

People stand near St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 April 2017

The Latest: Blast at church in Egypt’s Alexandria kills 11

CAIRO: Egypt’s Health Ministry says an explosion at a church in the coastal city of Alexandria has killed 11 people, and wounded at least 35 others.
It appeared to be the second attack targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christians, after a bomb in a church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta killed 26 people and wounded more than 70.
The ministry said the explosion went off at Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria, where Pope Tawadros II had earlier celebrated Palm Sunday.
No one immediately claimed either attack, but Islamic extremists have repeatedly targeted Egypt’s Christian minority in the past.
A Daesh affiliate based in the Sinai Peninsula claimed an attack on a Cairo church in December that killed around 30 people, and vowed more attacks on Christians.
French President Francois Hollande has expressed solidarity with Egypt following a deadly bombing at a church in the Nile Delta, north of Cairo.
In a written statement after Sunday’s attack, Hollande says “one more time, Egypt is hit by terrorists who want to destroy its unity and its diversity.”
He says France “mobilizes all its forces in association with the Egyptian authorities in the fight against terrorism,” and offers condolences to the families of the victims.
The bomb ripped through a church in the town of Tanta that was packed with Palm Sunday worshippers. Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population, and have been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists.
Daesh group has claimed the bombing of two Egyptian churches in separate cities.
Pope Francis has decried a deadly attack on a Coptic church in Egypt during Palm Sunday celebrations, just weeks before his planned visit to Cairo.
The pontiff expressed his “deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation,” and said he was praying for the dead and wounded in the attack. Word of the bombing came as Francis himself was marking Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.
The pontiff asked God “to convert the hearts of those who spread terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make, and traffic in, weapons.”
The pope’s remarks on the church attack were handed to him on a piece of paper after he remembered the victims of the Stockholm attack Friday night. The bombing killed 25 people and wounded another 71, according to Egyptian officials.
An Egyptian official says a church bombing north of Cairo has killed 21 people and wounded another 38.
Magdi Awad, the head of the provincial ambulance service, confirmed the toll from the bombing of a church in Tanta that was packed with Palm Sunday worshippers.
No one immediately claimed the attack.
Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population and have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists.
Egypt state media says a bomb has gone off in a church in the Nile Delta, causing casualties.
The MENA news agency attributed the report to unnamed Interior Ministry officials, who provided no further details.
The explosion took place in the town of Tanta as Coptic Christians were marking Palm Sunday. Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population and have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”