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Hundreds pay their respects to victims of church bombing in Egypt

(Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)Relatives of victims react to coffins arriving to the Coptic church that was bombed on Sunday in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.

Hundreds of Coptic Christians gathered at a church in the Egyptian city of Tanta on Easter Sunday to pay their respects to the victims of the suicide bombing that killed 27 people there a week earlier.

"We are paying our condolences to them and to their families and it is a bad situation," said Nassir Munir, who came to mourn the dead.

Worshippers offered prayers amid heavy security at the Mar Girgis church, but some of those who attended the gathering complained that the security measures were only introduced after the bombing.

The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attack that took place at the church on Palm Sunday as well as the bombing of another church in Alexandria on the same day, killing a total of 45 people, according to Reuters.

The Egyptian government has declared a three-month state of emergency, but some Copts in Tanta were asking why the authorities did not try to prevent the attack in the first place.

"We do not want the norm to be that they start moving only when crisis strikes," said Beshoy Wadea, the Abbot of the Mar Girgis church.

Coptic Christians, which make up 10 percent of the Egyptian population of 92 million, has long complained about persecution, but it became worse when ISIS started attacking them. The terror group also took credit for a church bombing that killed 25 people in December.

Last month, human rights group Amnesty International called on the government to offer "urgent protection" to Coptic Christians in North Sinai. The Copts in the region were forced to flee after at least seven Christians were killed in a series of attacks weeks before the Palm Sunday bombings.

"This terrifying wave of attacks has seen Coptic Christians in North Sinai hunted down and murdered by armed groups. No one should face discrimination — let alone violent and deadly attacks — because of their religious beliefs," said Naja Bounaim, deputy director for campaigns at the group's regional office in Tunis.

At St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, Pope Tawadros II was surrounded by security agents as he entered the church for the Easter service on Saturday.

The authorities created 400-meter radius security cordons around churches to prevent vehicles from passing through, while bomb squads scanned churches across the country for suspicious objects.

The Coptic pope has used his Easter message to deliver a somber message to Christians following the attacks.

"We remember the martyrs of Palm Sunday. With their blood they recorded a new page in the history of Egypt's Coptic Christian Church," Tawadros said in a video on his website.

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