ISIS Slaughters 43 Palm Sunday Worshipers in Egypt

(Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.
(Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)Egyptians gather in front of a Coptic church that was bombed on Sunday in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.
(Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.
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The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for two bombings of Palm Sunday worship services at two Coptic churches in Egypt, killing 43, drawing strong condemnation from leaders everywhere.

The first attack took place at St. George's Church in the northern city of Tanta; an explosive device was reportedly planted near the altar and detonated while the congregation was singing hymns. Twenty-seven were killed, including priests and choristers, 78 others injured, according to CNN Sunday. 

Soon thereafter, in Alexandria, a suicide attacker strapped with a bomb killed 16 people and injured 41 more outside St. Mark's Orthodox Coptic Cathedral. According to the Egyptian state media, the head of Egypt's Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, was inside when the blast occurred. He was not injured.

In claiming responsibility for the attack ISIS signaled that more attacks were coming: "The Crusaders and their tails from the apostates must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God willing."

Condemnation of the bombings came swiftly both in Egypt and overseas.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called the attacks "outrageous" and ordered an investigation to "hunt down the perpetrators" and "take all measures to offer the necessary care for the wounded." He also called for three days of national mourning.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said through a spokesman that he "wish[ed] a quick recovery to those injured and hopes that the perpetrators of this horrific terrorist act will be swiftly identified and brought to justice."

Reaction was similar in the United States.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to condemn the attack, saying he has "great confidence that [Egyptian] President Al Sisi will handle situation properly."

U.S. Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma and member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said in a press release that "[t]oday's Palm Sunday attack in Egypt on peaceful worshippers in their church is a horrible act of terrorism. Anti-religious and anti-Christian violence is alive and well throughout the Middle East, and the World."

"Radical Islamists kill Christians because they are Christians; Yezidis because they are Yezidis; and different Muslim sects because they believe in a different brand of Islam than them. The right to practice any faith, or have no faith, should be a fundamental human right of all people. The United States of America will always stand with people around the World who seek freedom of conscience and assembly," he said.

Likewise, a congressional delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives including Republicans Darrell Issa, Barbara Comstock, and Claudia Tenney as well as Democrat Juan Vargas issued a statement voicing their disgust and outlining their support for Egypt's president Al-Sisi.

"We are sickened and horrified at the attacks that occurred this morning in Egypt, targeting innocent worshippers as they gathered to celebrate one of the holiest days of the Christian faith. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with all those affected by this despicable act of terrorism," the statement read.

"The United States must continue working with our allies and partners in the international community to bring a swift end to ISIS and these continuing acts of violence across the world. Egypt is one of our most crucial partners in that fight.

That delegation of Congressmen met with el-Sisi Saturday in Cairo, the first-stop in a bipartisan trip to the Middle East intended to strengthen alliances with partners in the region to combat terrorism.

Ever since 2011, following the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime, Coptic Christians, which comprise approximately 10 percent of Egypt's population, have endured increasing levels of violent persecution.

Last December, a Coptic cathedral in Cairo was bombed, killing 25.

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