Months after deadly Palm Sunday attack, Egypt's St George's church re-opens
The Mar Girgis (St George) Church in Tanta, Egypt was inaugurated at the weekend after renovations were completed, months after the church was blown up during a Palm Sunday prayer service amid a wave of terrorist attacks.
Large numbers of Christians flocked into the church on Saturday morning to attend the first mass there since the attack, amid intense security, according to Egypt Today.
The reopening of the church followed renovations helped by the armed forces after the blast at the church on April 9 which left at least 40 dead and more than 70 injured. Another attack four hours later targeted Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, leaving 16 dead and at least 40 injured.
Back then, Abanoub Gamal, a member of St George's, told World Watch Monitor: 'I was standing behind the back pews, next to the church door. At about 9.05am I noticed a man wearing a brown jacket enter the church and walk among the pews from the back to the front ... [He] stood in front of the church altar and he then exploded himself.'
He continued: 'Then there was a huge explosion, the lights went off, all the people screamed, the situation was terrible. The church was filled with the bodies of the dead, body parts and the injured. Blood was splattered all over the place and reached the church ceiling.'
Last month, a further attack at the church was foiled by security services outside the building.
Egypt has suffered increasingly from attacks by Islamist extremists, not only on its Christian minority but on its armed forces. Sixteen police officers were killed in October during an ambush in its western desert in an attack condemned by the Churches.
On November 24 more than 300 people were killed in a devastating attack on a mosque in North Sinai.