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AP Photo/Samer Abdallah
World News

Funerals held for victims of Egypt church bomb attacks

At least 28 people died at St George's Church in Tanta, while another blast at St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria claimed at least 17 lives.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour, Bishop Angaelos, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, urged people not to be distracted from the human cost of the attack.

His Grace said: "I would really encourage people not to turn this into a conversation on presidency issues, security policies and forget the people who lost their lives yesterday where they were going to celebrate Palm Sunday with their families.

AP Photo/Samer Abdallah

"I just pray that there is a consciousness of the sacredness and value of every life and that people are seen more than just a commodity or a bargaining chip."

Caskets marked with the word "martyr" were brought into the Mar Amina church in Alexandra as mourners carried flowers in a procession to the beat of snare drums.

Andrew Boyd, a spokesperson for the Christian organisation Release International which supports believers under pressure for their faith, told Premier the Egyptian Church is growing, despite persecution.

He said: "There is something of a revival going on within the Coptic Church and that's been a response to the direct violent persecution. Church attendance, according to some commentators is doubling and even trebling.

Andrew Boyd also said it was important the state of emergency isn't used to curb freedoms.

He went on to say: "There must be a strengthening of security to protect Christians within Egypt but there also has to be an avoidance of that kind of over-reaction that targets everybody as extremists and shuts everybody up."

A three-month state of emergency has been declared by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi following the attacks which come four months after a church bombing killed 30 people in Cairo.

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking with Bishop Angaelos:

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking with Andrew Boyd:

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