No less than 25 people have been killed and 70 others injured after a bomb exploded in a Coptic church north of Cairo that was packed with Palm Sunday worshippers, officials say.
According to CNN, the explosive device at St. George Coptic church in Tanta was planted under a seat in the church, where it detonated in the main prayer hall, it said.
Eyewitnesses Vivian Fareeg described a scene of carnage.
“There was a huge explosion in the hall. Fire and smoke filled the room and the injuries were extremely severe,” she said.
The blast struck at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Cairo, just before 10:00 am local time (0800 GMT), state television reported.
Egyptian security forces had been put on alert in anticipation of such an attack.
After the first explosion, provincial governor Ahmad Deif told the state-run Nile channel: “Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up.”
General Tarek Atiya, the deputy to Egypt’s interior minister in charge of relations with the media, told news agency AFP the blast took place near to the altar in the front rows.
A search is under way for any more explosives which could be in the vicinity.
Pope Francis, who is due to visit Egypt later this month, has condemned the attack.