Coptic churches in Egypt cancel Easter celebrations, mourning Palm Sunday bombings

Bishop Makarios of Minya said there would be no Easter celebrations in his diocese this year, following Palm Sunday bombings on Coptic churches that killed 45.Louafi Larbi/Reuters

Coptic churches in the south of Egypt said they would not hold Easter celebrations this year, in mourning of the 45 Coptic Christians killed in the two Palm Sunday bomb attacks.

The Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said it would be commemorating Easter 'without any festive manifestations'.

'The Easter mass will be limited to prayers only,' a Facebook statement by Bishop Makarious of Minya and Abu Korkas said, according to Ahram Online.

The Minya diocese, located in Upper Egypt, south of Cairo, hosts the highest Coptic Christian population in the country.

It said the cancellation of services would take effect across all its churches, 'due to the current circumstances the country and the Church are witnessing'.

At least 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in Palm Sunday bombings on two Coptic churches in Egypt. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The first bombing, yesterday morning in Tanta, a Nile Delta city less than 60 miles north of Cairo, killed at least 27 and injured nearly 80 people.

Just hours later a second bombing took place from a suicide bomber in Alexandria, at St Mark's Cathedral, the historic seat of Coptic Pope Tawadros II. The blast killed 17, including three police officers, and injured 48. The Coptic Pope was unharmed.

Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month nationwide state of emergency following the attacks, and established a Supreme Council to Combat Terrorism and Fanaticism.

The bishop's statement added: 'We apologise that we will not be receiving felicitations from officials or regular citizens. The Eparchy also appreciates all the kind regards it has received from everybody.'

In December, ISIS claimed responsibility for a Cairo Coptic church bombing that killed 27. In February, the jihadist group released a video inciting violence against the 'infidel' Christian faith community. At least seven individuals have been murdered by militants in northern Egypt since January 30, with victims being burned alive, stabbed in their sleep and shot in the street.

Hundreds of Coptic Christians fled the coastal city of El-Arish, Sinai in late February following an increasing terror threat from ISIS against the community. Bishop Angaelos, the head of the Coptic church in the UK, said Copts in the area were essentially told to 'leave or die'.

Egypt's Christians – mostly Orthodox Copts – represent about 10 per cent of the country's majority Muslim population.