This is the moment an ISIS suicide bomber detonated outside an Egyptian church after being turned away by three hero policemen in the second of two attacks that killed more than 45 Christians and wounded 100.

CCTV shows the fanatic, dressed in a blue pullover, approaching the gate at St Mark’s in Alexandria but being told to go through the metal detector first by officers.

He then passes a female police officer talking to another woman, and enters a metal detector before an explosion engulfs the area.

The atrocity, which followed another attack in Tanta, was thought to have been aimed at Pope Tawadros II, leader of the ancient Coptic church, who was worshipping in St Mark’s at the time but escaped unharmed.

The dead officers were named as Ahmed Ibrahim, Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar and Emad El-Rakiby. 

The blasts, claimed by Islamic State, came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit the Arab world’s most populous country. 

Egyptian President El-Sissi has now declared a state of emergency for three months.

Under the country’s constitution, Sisi will have to put the measure before parliament, which is stacked with his supporters, for approval within a week.

Sisi announced the ‘state of emergency for three months’ in a defiant speech at the presidential palace after a meeting of the national defence council. 

At least 38 people have been killed after two explosions targeting Coptic Christians in Tantra and Alexandria today

At least 38 people have been killed after two explosions targeting Coptic Christians in Tantra and Alexandria today

Priests saying mass in the cathedral in Tantra were sprayed with blood after the device exploded in the church's front row

Priests saying mass in the cathedral in Tantra were sprayed with blood after the device exploded in the church’s front row

Approximately ten per cent of the Egyptian population are Christian and have been targeted several times by ISIS terrorists

Approximately ten per cent of the Egyptian population are Christian and have been targeted several times by ISIS terrorists

In the first attack, a bomb went off inside St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, killing at least 27 people and wounding 78, officials said.

The attack on St. Mark’s Cathedral, in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, happened a few hours later and killed at least 16 people and wounding 41, the Interior Ministry said.

Isis claimed the attacks via its Aamaq news agency, after having recently warned that it would step up violence against Egypt’s Christians.

CBC TV showed footage from inside the church in Tanta, where people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.

‘After the explosion, everything became dark from the smoke,’ said Edmond Edward, attending services with his brother, Emil, who was wounded and leaned on him for support at a nearby hospital. 

‘There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives,’ he said. He added that the blast appeared to be centered near the altar and that the priest leading the service, Father Daniel, was wounded.

Susan Mikhail, whose apartment balcony across the street has a clear view of the church and its front yard, said the explosion violently shook her building.

‘Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes,’ she said. 

Later, the more seriously wounded were carried out by other survivors and taken to hospitals in private cars, she said.

Hundreds of residents gathered in the area, and church members blocked people – including journalists – from entering the church as police cordoned off the area.

The dead officers were named as Ahmed Ibrahim, Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar and Emad El-Rakiby

The dead officers were named as Ahmed Ibrahim, Brigadier General Nagwa El-Haggar and Emad El-Rakiby

Muslim officer Emad El-Rakiby, 33, was killed when he prevented a suicide-bomber from entering St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria

Muslim officer Emad El-Rakiby, 33, was killed when he prevented a suicide-bomber from entering St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria

Worshippers helped those who were injured by this morning’s tragic blast in Cairo

Emil Edward Salib, pictured, was injured when the device exploded inside the church in Tanta during today's service

Emil Edward Salib, pictured, was injured when the device exploded inside the church in Tanta during today’s service

Regional police chief Brig. Gen. Hossam Elddin Khalifa was fired over the incident, with Maj. Gen. Tarek Hassouna replacing him, state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is ‘so sad to hear of the terrorist attack’ against the U.S. ally but added that he has ‘great confidence’ that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, ‘will handle the situation properly.’ 

The two leaders met at the White House on April 3.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar – the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam – also condemned the attacks, calling them a ‘despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.’

Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighboring Gaza condemned the bombings as well.

The bombings added to fears that Islamic extremists who have long been battling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting their focus to civilians.

An Isis affiliate claimed a December suicide bombing at a Cairo church that killed about 30 people, mostly women, as well as a string of killings in the northern Sinai that caused hundreds of Christians to flee. 

The militants recently released a video vowing to step up attacks against Christians, whom they regard as ‘infidels’ empowering the West against Muslims.

Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.

The Sinai-based IS affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, but has also claimed bombings that killed civilians, including the downing of a Russian passenger jetliner in the Sinai in 2015. 

This killed all 224 people onboard and devastated Egypt’s tourism industry.

More than 38 people have been killed in today's blasts in Tanta and Alexandria which have been claimed by ISIS

More than 38 people have been killed in today’s blasts in Tanta and Alexandria which have been claimed by ISIS

ISIS has claimed responsibility for today's attack which targeted churches in Tanta and Alexandria 

ISIS has claimed responsibility for today’s attack which targeted churches in Tanta and Alexandria 

And in April 1, a militant group claimed responsibility for an April 1 bomb attack targeting a police training center in Tanta, which wounded 16 people.

Egypt’s Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. They have long complained of discrimination and that the government does not do enough to protect them.

Egyptian media had previously reported that the church in Tanta had been targeted before, with a bomb defused there in late March.

The Copts were largely supportive of the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, and incurred the wrath of many of his followers, who attacked churches and other Christian institutions.

While the Copts have stood steadfast alongside the government, repeating the mantra that Egyptians were all being targeted by terrorists, an increase in attacks on Christians has tested that support.

Outside the Tanta hospital, 27-year-old carpenter Maged Saleh flew into a rage as blood streamed from his arm after he and his mother escaped the explosion.

‘Where is the government?’ he screamed at onlookers. ‘There is no government!’ 

Pope Francis, marking Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, decried the bombings, expressing ‘deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation.’

He is due to visit Egypt April 28 to 29.

A video showed the victims of today’s atrocity lying on the ground after the terrible blast

The pontiff expressed his ‘deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II. Word of the bombing came as Francis himself was marking Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

The pontiff asked God `to convert the hearts of those who spread terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make, and traffic in, weapons’.

The pope’s remarks on the church attack were handed to him on a piece of paper after he remembered the victims of the Stockholm attack Friday night. 

Francis, who has not made any direct public comment on the current Middle East crisis, said the Mass as international tensions increased following the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base, which the Pentagon says was involved in a chemical weapons attack that killed 87 people.

The service was being broadcast live on Egyptian television when the blast happened

The service was being broadcast live on Egyptian television when the blast happened

Viewers saw the blast happening live on television before the video feed cut out

Viewers saw the blast happening live on television before the video feed cut out

WHO ARE THE COPTIC CHRISTIANS AND WHY ARE THEY PERSECUTED? 

Egypt’s Copts, targets of an apparent church bombing north of Cairo on Sunday, are the Middle East’s largest Christian minority and one of the oldest.

Making up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 90 million, the Coptic Orthodox form the largest Christian denomination in the Muslim-majority country.

The Copts trace their history to the dawn of Christianity, when Egypt was integrated into the Roman and later the Byzantine empire.

The word ‘Copt’ comes from the same root as the word for ‘Egyptian’ in ancient Greek.

The community’s decline started with the Arab invasions of the 7th century and the progressive Islamisation of the country, which today is largely Sunni Muslim.

Several churches and monasteries in Egypt are built on sites Copts believe were visited by the Holy Family.

Copts, represented in all social classes, are present across the whole country, with the strongest concentration in central and southern Egypt.

Most adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, headed since 2012 by Pope Tawadros II. A minority is divided between Coptic Catholics and various Coptic Protestant branches.

Tawadros, who succeeded pope Shenuda III, was chosen by a blindfolded altar boy picking his name from a chalice, according to tradition.

The Vatican says some 165,000 Catholic Copts lived in Egypt in 2010.

Poorly represented in government, Copts complain that they are sidelined from many posts in the justice system, universities and the police.

Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week that culminates on Easter Sunday, commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus entered Jerusalem and was welcomed as the messiah, only to be crucified five days later. 

Francis, marking the fifth Easter season of his pontificate, blessed palm and olive branches in the centre of St. Peter’s Square before saying Mass.

‘He (Jesus) is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labour, from family tragedies, from diseases,’ he said.

‘They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike. Women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded,’ he added.

Before the U.S. missile strike, Francis said he was horrified by the suspected chemical weapons attack, calling it an ‘unacceptable massacre’ of innocent civilians.

Allies of the United States have expressed support for Washington’s actions, calling them a proportionate response to Syrian forces’ suspected use of chemical weapons. But they were denounced as illegal by Syria and its allies Russia and Iran.

Palm Sunday marks the start of a hectic week for the Pope, who on Thursday he visits a prison south of Rome to wash and kiss the feet of 12 inmates, commemorating Jesus’ gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

Previous popes held the service either at the Vatican or a Rome basilica but Francis changed the tradition to stress the importance of going to the poor, the sick and the imprisoned.

He has drawn ultra-traditionalist ire for including Muslims and women in a service previously limited to Catholic men. 

The attacks have been condemned by a series of world leaders. 

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted: ‘We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today.’

Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, ‘cursed’ the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.

Gormez added: ‘The immunity of a place of worship, no matter the religion it belongs to, cannot be violated and the bloodthirsty killing of innocent worshippers cannot ever be forgiven.’ 

Germany has condemned the bombing of a Coptic church and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement Sunday that ‘the aim of the perpetrators, to drive a wedge between people of different faiths living peacefully side-by-side, mustn’t be allowed to happen’. 

Coptic Christians in Egypt have been subjected to a greater number of terrorist attacks

Coptic Christians in Egypt have been subjected to a greater number of terrorist attacks

Forensic officers began gathering evidence from the site of the suicide blast in Tantra, 75 miles north of Cairo

Forensic officers began gathering evidence from the site of the suicide blast in Tantra, 75 miles north of Cairo

Pope Francis condemned today's twin suicide attacks and expressed his sympathy for the victims and their families 

Pope Francis condemned today’s twin suicide attacks and expressed his sympathy for the victims and their families 

An officer used a metal detector to find fragments from the bomb which ripped through the Church in Tanta, Egypt

An officer used a metal detector to find fragments from the bomb which ripped through the Church in Tanta, Egypt

Three police officers died in Alexandria as they prevented a suicide bomber from accessing the Coptic church 

Three police officers died in Alexandria as they prevented a suicide bomber from accessing the Coptic church 

At least 11 people were killed in the second attack which hit the northern port city of Alexandria 

At least 11 people were killed in the second attack which hit the northern port city of Alexandria 

 Even Hamas in Gaza have condemned the double bombings.  

Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said ‘Hamas wishes safety, security, stability and prosperity for Egypt and its people.’

Israel has sent its condolences to Egypt following the deadly bombing at a church in the Nile Delta, north of Cairo.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said ‘the world has to come together and fight terrorism everywhere’. 

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted: ‘We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today.’

Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, ‘cursed’ the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.

Gormez added: ‘The immunity of a place of worship, no matter the religion it belongs to, cannot be violated and the bloodthirsty killing of innocent worshippers cannot ever be forgiven.’ 

Egypt’s Interior Ministry says a blast at a church in Alexandria was caused by a suicide bomber who tried to storm the entrance before being stopped by police.

World leaders have condemned today's attacks which have claimed the lives of at lead 38 people and wounded 100

World leaders have condemned today’s attacks which have claimed the lives of at lead 38 people and wounded 100

The dead and wounded were removed from the scene in Alexandria on stretchers in the aftermath of the attack

The dead and wounded were removed from the scene in Alexandria on stretchers in the aftermath of the attack

Israeli security officials have asked Israeli tourists in the neighboring Sinai peninsula in Egypt to return home immediately.

The country’s anti-terrorism office issued the recommendation on Sunday, citing what it said was a heightened alert level and twin church attacks that killed dozens of Christian worshippers.

The order recommends that all Israeli tourists in the Sinai return home immediately. It calls on families of travelers who stay in the Sinai to alert their loved ones of the risks. It also calls on Israelis planning trips to the Sinai to cancel.

The Sinai has traditionally been a popular destination for Israelis – especially during the upcoming Passover holiday. But Israel has urged its citizens to avoid the area in recent years because of Islamic militant activity.

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