Egypt announces state of emergency following ISIL attacks

Egypt’s cabinet approved on Monday (April 10th) a decision to impose a nationwide state of emergency for three months effective April 10th at 1 p.m. after terror bombings killed scores of Egyptian Copts at two churches, al-Ahram reported.

"The state of emergency allows both the armed forces and the police to execute those procedures necessary to combat the threats of terrorism and its financing, maintain security around the country and protect public and private property, as well as preserve the lives of citizens," a cabinet statement said.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the three-month period, which will vastly increase the powers of Egypt's security forces, after the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) claimed twin bombings that struck worshippers as they celebrated Palm Sunday mass, AFP reported.

In a defiant speech, he warned the war against extremists "will be long and painful" after he had ordered the army to protect "vital infrastructure" and increase security along Egypt's borders.

The first Sunday bombing at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta city north of Cairo killed 27 people, the health ministry said.

Emergency services had scrambled to the scene when another blast rocked St. Mark's church in Alexandria where Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been leading a Palm Sunday service.

Seventeen people including at least four police officers were killed in that attack, which the Interior Ministry said was caused by a suicide bomber who blew himself up when prevented from entering the church.

The ministry said Tawadros was unharmed, and a church official said he had left before the explosion.

At least 78 people were wounded in Tanta and 40 in Alexandria, the Health Ministry said.

ISIL claimed two Egyptian suicide bombers carried out both attacks and threatened further attacks in a statement published on social media.

Lawmakers said the state of emergency -- Egypt's first since widespread unrest in 2013 -- would help the country face down a menacing extremist insurgency.

It will allow police to detain for 45 days suspects "known to the security services but for whom there is not enough evidence to go to trial", said parliament member Yehia Kedwani.

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