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Pope prays for Egypt bomb victims, weeks before visit

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Pope Francis voiced condolences Sunday after a bomb blast killed at least 22 people at a Coptic Christian church near Cairo, weeks before a trip to Egypt by the Catholic pontiff.

“Let us pray for the victims of the attack unfortunately carried out today,” said the Argentinian pope, who is due to spend two days in Egypt at the end of April.

An Iraqi Christian priest from Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), some 30 kilometres east of Mosul, serves communion at the heavily damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception on April 9, 2017, as Christians mark the first Palm Sunday event in the town since Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.
Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq. / AFP PHOTO

“I express my deep condolences to my dear brother, his Holiness (Coptic Christian) Pope Tawadros II, to the Coptic church and to the whole of the dear Egyptian nation,” he said.

In an Angelus prayer, he continued: “I pray for the deceased and the injured. I am close to the families and to the whole community,” which was celebrating Palm Sunday.

“May the Lord convert the heart of those who sow terror, violence and death and also the heart of those who make weapons and trade in them.”

The pope was speaking after a bomb blast killed at least 22 people and injured 71 in the town of Tanta north of Cairo, fewer than three weeks before the pope’s trip to Egypt on April 27-28.

Hours later, and following the pope’s remarks, a second blast was reported near a church in Alexandria, killing six people according to authorities.

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