(Reuters) Families of victims of Sunday’s bombing at Alexandria’s Coptic cathedral gathered at the Monastery of Saint Mina under heavy security on Monday as Egypt’s cabinet approved a three-month state of emergency ahead of a scheduled trip by Pope Francis.
Coffins of the 17 killed were lined up on the tiled square outside the monastery ahead of the funeral. Police checked cars as they entered the grounds, with hundreds of people gathered outside, and dozens of tanks lined parts of the road from Cairo.
The blast in Egypt’s second largest city came hours after a bomb struck a Coptic church in Tanta, a nearby city in the Nile Delta, killing 27 and wounding nearly 80.
Both attacks were claimed by ISIS, which has waged a campaign against Egypt’s Christian minority, the largest in the Middle East. The Copts, whose presence in Egypt dates to the Roman era, have long complained of religious persecution and accused the state of not doing enough to protect them.
Coming on Palm Sunday, when Christians mark the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, the bombings appeared designed to spread fear among Copts, who make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population.