Mubarak blames ‘foreign hand’ for church attack

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CAIRO: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accused “foreign hands” of carrying out a deadly New Year’s day attack on a church early Saturday that killed 21 people and wounded 79 others.

In a televised speech Mubarak said the bombing targeting worshippers as they emerged from a New Year’s eve at a Coptic church in Alexandria bore the hallmark “of foreign hands.”

“It is a terrorist operation that is alien to us,” he said, pledging that his government will track down the culprits and urging Muslims and Christians to close ranks.

“All of Egypt is targeted. This blind terrorism does not differentiate between Copts and Muslims,” said the president.

“We will all cut off the head of the snake, confront terrorism and defeat it,” he said.

“You are terribly mistaken if you believe that you can hide from the punishment of the Egyptian people,” he said, addressing the still-unknown assailants.

The interior ministry said evidence showed the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and that it was the work of “foreign elements.”

There was no immediate claim, but Al-Qaeda has called for punishment of Egypt’s Copts, over claims that two priests’ wives they say had converted to Islam were being held by the church against their will.


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