A bomb explosion outside a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, killed at least 21 people and wounded 96 others on Saturday. The bomb is believed to have been worn by a suicide bomber and intended as an attack against Egypt’s Christian minority, set off shortly after midnight outside the Saints Church as the New Year’s Mass was ending, following a year of religious tensions in the region. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak said authorities believe the bomb was set off by foreign terrorists, but authorities on Sunday were investigating local Muslim extremists who may have been inspired by Al Qaeda. Mubarak said, “We are all in one trench. We will cut off the head of the snake, confront terrorism, and defeat it.” Congregants returned to the targeted church early Sunday for Mass, with riot police manning the streets and shattered glass and blood still visible. The pews were nearly full, with worshipers occasionally directing angry outbursts at the Egyptian government for not preventing attacks against Coptic Christians, and sobbing throughout the service.
On Sunday, President Obama said, “The perpetrators of this attack were clearly targeting Christian worshipers, and have no respect for human life and dignity. They must be brought to justice for this barbaric and heinous act. We are continuing to gather information regarding this terrible event, and are prepared to offer any necessary assistance to the Government of Egypt in responding to it.”