Suicide bomber may have hit church: Egypt

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urges Christians and Muslims to close ranks.

Last Updated: Jan 01, 2011, 16:19 PM IST

Cairo: A bomb that killed 21 people outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria may have been carried by a suicide bomber and not caused by a car bomb, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement, carried by the official news agency, that there was no sign the blast originated from any of the destroyed cars, suggesting that "it is likely that the device which exploded was carried by a suicide bomber who died among others".

In the meantime, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urged Christians and Muslims to close ranks and confront "terrorism".

"President Hosni Mubarak has been following up on the criminal terrorist act from the moment it occurred and throughout the night and until dawn today," the state-run MENA news agency reported.

Mubarak "calls on children of Egypt -- Copts and Muslims -- to close ranks and confront the forces of terrorism and those who want to undermine the security, stability and unity of the children of this nation," MENA said.

At least 21 people were killed after midnight when an explosion took place as the faithful emerged from mass at Al-Qiddissine (The Saints) church in the Sidi Bechr district of Alexandria, Egypt`s second city, a health official said.

The attack targeted a Coptic church, Egypt`s largest Christian community and the biggest in the Middle East.

There was no immediate responsibility for the attack but al Qaeda`s Iraq affiliate had threatened Egypt`s Copts late last year after claiming an attack on a Baghdad church on October 31 that left 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security forces dead.

(With Agencies’ inputs)